Q: What educational trips have you been on?
A: I haven’t really been on many educational trips that were organized intentionally to be educational, but my family and I travel a lot. I did get a grant from the Lilly Endowment to do one big trip two years ago. We drove all the way out to California and all the way back and stopped at 16 or 17 different national parks and interesting sites. I find that travel can be the source of a great deal of understanding. My family has learned invaluable lessons about culture, history, science, geography, and language through our travels across the US, Canada, France, Italy, and Switzerland. While I am no Einstein, I believe I share one of his traits. He once said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Passionate curiosity is a trait our family deeply values. Travel helps us follow that passion and I hope to share it with my students to ignite their curiosity.
Q: Which was your favorite trip and why?
A: The Lilly trip was probably my favorite. Although, the trip to Europe was a close second. [On] the trip to California and back, we took three weeks to go, and we saw so many different things. I interviewed scientists and park rangers and things like that along the way, and so I just learned a ton on the trip, and it was really neat.
Q: What’s the most interesting thing that has happened on a trip?
A: Well we got lost in Death Valley. That was pretty interesting. It was 118 degrees out, and the GPS didn’t work, and cell phones didn’t work. We knew that was a possibility, so we prepared for it and had plenty of water and plenty of food and all of that, but you don’t have to be out in the open in Death Valley for very long before you die. We had to pull out the old paper maps and compass and everything, but we successfully got our way out, and it was kind of fun in retrospect. It wasn’t fun at the time.
Q: How have these trips affected your life?
A: When we first started traveling, shortly after my husband and I got married, we decided that we enjoyed it so much that that’s really where we spend our money. We make a lot of decisions about not buying new cars and not buying big houses and stuff like that, and so I think it really has affected how we live quite a bit.
Q: What classes do you teach and how have these trips affected you as a teacher?
A: I teach AP Environmental Science and regular Environmental Science, and that’s it. I’ve taught years and years of chemistry before that, but we have a big enough program now that I can teach all environmental which I love. The reason that I planned the Lilly trip the way I did was to learn about geology because I felt like it was something I teach in environmental science, but I didn’t really understand it very well because my degree is in biology. I learned tons of stuff about geology through those trips.
Q: Why do you think it’s important for students to take environmental science?
A: I think it’s something that a lot of adults don’t relaly know about. Once you get out of high school, chances of coming across really good environmental information from a scientific standpoint, it’s a little harder to find that information out. A lot of people have misconceptions about how the environment works and the human impact on it, so I think it’s really critical, especially at this point in time with climate change and everything, that students have a good understanding of it when they graduate.
If you’re interested in learning more about Mrs. Kern and her many travels, check out her blog here!
(Content collected by Claire Rightley. Photo submitted by Mrs. Lisa Kern.)