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The setting for your event can provide many opportunities or challenges as you plan activities. A well-chosen site can provide a unique, inspiring experience for students. Your event layout can influence interactions among participants. Moreover, participants should feel a sense of safety and belonging at the event before they can learn effectively. They will also experience novelty (reaction to the new environment) at field day events. Some studies suggest that participants can be distracted from learning by a new environment, and must expend some energy exploring their surroundings before they are ready to attend to tasks and to effectively learn. Other studies suggest that participants may be unable to concentrate on learning if the environment is perceived to be unsafe or uncomfortable.
Therefore, it is important to find a setting that supports your theme and inspires students. Be familiar with your setting and plan for anything that may arise. Choose a site and design an event layout that minimizes novelty and meets the needs of your participants. They will be better equipped to focus on learning.
“I am just ecstatic,” Morris began. “As a participating teacher, my first concern is that my kids are comfortable and learning. So, I was pretty leery of bringing them to an outdoor event in the woods.We’re from the city, and most of my students haven’t spent much time outdoors. I was afraid they would be pretty uncomfortable, swatting mosquitoes, getting frustrated. But, Chris worked with me to make sure things were all right.” Chris, an event organizer, continued, “Two years ago, we discovered that teachers like Morris were skipping the event. But we wanted to make sure that it was open to everyone, so we made some changes.We now provide all visiting teachers with a backpack containing copies of the emergency plan, a can of bug spray, some trash bags, a couple of extra jackets and ponchos.We re-located all presentations right on trails. Our presenters discuss anything that students might fear, and ask students before making them to touch unfamiliar objects. Groups like Morris’ get a short guided tour of the event before it begins.” Morris finished by saying, “It was great. We’ll definitely be back next year.”
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