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Fifth Graders Explore Galveston on Annual Class Trip
Staff

Every year, our fifth graders embark on their class trip to Galveston, Texas. Although many Texans perceive this city as a beach town, ESD fifth graders will tell you there's so much more to the city. From the aquarium and rainforest of Moody Gardens to the out-of-this-world Houston Space Center, our students had a journey full of memorable moments and warm company. 

ESD provides students numerous opportunities to explore the world around them, both within our community and beyond. Although the fourth-grade class journeys out of the Metroplex for the first time on a day trip to Austin, the Galveston trip is the first of many overnight stays, spanning two nights and three days. In many ways, The Outdoor Education program and fifth-grade teams coordinate and intentionally plan not only the itinerary, room assignments, meals, excursions, and more but also prepare students little by little for adventures further away from home, such as their sixth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., and the eighth-grade trip to Colorado. Each trip supports the overarching goal of ESDistinction, where students discover, explore, and cultivate their passions and purpose through various educational and experiential opportunities. 

The fifth graders started their expedition with high energy and a full agenda, visiting roughly six different places, including The Houston Space Center, serving as the official visitor center of NASA Johnson Space Center; The Bryan Museum, bringing the history of Texas and the American West to life; and the Galveston Railroad Museum, dedicated to the restoration, observation, and re-use of its historic facilities and equipment. Students also immersed themselves in nature at Moody Gardens, an educational center that uses nature to educate visitors about conservation and wildlife; the Armand Bayou Nature Center, the largest urban wilderness preserve in the United States, sitting at 2,500 acres; and last but not least, the beach, where the group soaked up some rays and splashed around before grabbing a bite to eat at Fisherman’s Wharf. 

Better yet, some places, such as the Galveston Railroad Museum, carry connections to future trips, like the sixth-grade class trip to Washington, D.C. Two separate railcars historically transported the marble used to carve the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and carry The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution cross-country as they were being signed by state leaders and federal officials. Students explored both railcars on their fifth-grade trip, serving as a foundation for their sixth-grade trip, where they will see the tomb and documents in person the following year. 

Students thoroughly enjoyed exploring the several places they visited, especially the Armand Bayou Nature Center. There, they participated in activities such as digging up mud and sifting it through water to see if they’d found anything. The particles were then transported into a tank, where docents assisted in showcasing what students discovered. The class also explored the nature surrounding swamp-like areas at the center, where they spotted different species of birds, caterpillars, and a few baby crocodiles. 

"They're just really valuable experiences for kids to have. Yes, they have an educational purpose, but there's also such a great community-building aspect for them to have these memories with their classmates, their teachers, their advisors - with the people in our community. They'll carry them throughout all of middle school, their ESD life, and beyond," said Allison Darnell, Assistant Head of Middle School. 

Although the Galveston trip provides numerous interdisciplinary connections and educational opportunities, students spend their most memorable moments with friends, instructors, and advisors outside of their school setting—from having an all-girls spa night to throwing a dance party on the ride home. 

“As we got closer to home, I played some music, and we had a little bit of a singing dance party on the way back, which was fun and something the girls were laughing and talking about,” Darnell remarked. “Those were just good memories, fun times outside of school. The trip provides those opportunities.”