Field Trips-Environmental Education - Carnegie Mellon University

Field Trips

photo"And for what destinations and for what destiny do we educate our children?" asks David Orr in Earth in Mind, emphasizing the need to have a sense of place for true environmental literacy. Field trips are central for students to see models, learn about their neighborhoods as built and natural environments, and to engage in the aesthetics, design, and functioning of a place. Faculty recommendations of field trips are described here.

photo farm visitFarm Visit: Mildred's Daughters Urban Farm

Mildred's Daughters Urban Farm is the last remaining farm within the city limits of Pittsburgh. This small, certified organic farm specializes in heirloom tomatoes and vegetables, as well as flowers and herbs. The Farm is about a 25 min. away, and the visit can last from 1.5 to 4 hours long depending on the level of involvement desired. Students will be welcomed into the home of the farm owners where they will learn about the history of the land, and the problems facing both small and large farm owners. While walking around the farm they will learn about the sustainable methods and ideals that are practiced on the land. In the remaining time, students will get to connect with the land by physically helping to plan and/or harvest the sessions yield. Visiting the Farm will help foster a sense of place for students which has been lost in the global food network of monocultures and agro-business. The two women who own the farm work on a small scale, with modest means and a healthy understanding of the personal, communal, and land development that occurs over time and space. Mildreds Daughters Urban Farm helps to shift the paradigm of our communitys ideas about where and how food and nourishment comes about literally changing the way that society organizes its self from the disconnected global monocultures, back to an older agricultural model with a new urban, sustainable focus.

Learn more about Mildred's Daughters urban farm.

photo green buildingGreen Building Tour

This tour would be lead by The Green Building Alliances educational outreach program, a non-profit organization. The GBAs work seeks to improve the economic, social and environment performance of the Pittsburgh region through the integration of green building practices into regional development projects. Pittsburgh contains 40 buildings which are either certified or registered under the U.S Green Building Councils Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. The tour has the option of touring one LEED certified buildings, or touring several of them. The tours are geared towards the intended audience so each group has a unique experience depending on their educational goals. Here are a few options for the buildings that can be toured: David L. Lawrence Convention Center, PNC Firstside Center, Greater Pittsburgh Community Foodbank, KSBA Architects, New House Residence Hall - Carnegie Mellon University, and The Schenley Park Visitor Center. Students would be prepared for the tour with a handout put together by the GBA for the building/buildings that they are visiting. During the tour they would be exposed to environmental history and transformation of Pittsburgh and its leadership in green building techniques. Students will develop an understanding of how Pittsburgh has undergone a dramatic environmental and economic renaissance during the past 50 years. They will also see how new economic diversity has evolved from a tradition of innovation to combined with emerging industries. Essentially, the tour will explain the environmental techniques for building design, construction and operations which all come together to make a green building.

Learn more about The Green Building Alliance.

Rachel Carson Homestead

The Rachel Carson Homestead Association was formed in 1975 to preserve and restore this National Register historic site and to offer education programs which advance Rachel Carson's environmental ethic. Visit and experience first-hand the surroundings that made Rachel Carson a fierce and poetic defender of the natural world. The Rachel Carson Homestead grounds and gardens are open to the public year round. Tours of the historic house are available year round by appointment.

Learn more about The Rachel Carson Homestead.

Schenley ParkSchenley Park Tour

This fieldtrip would be a guided tour by a Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy official. The walk would start out from the Schenley Visitor Center, a green designed building and continue from there into the park. The tour will explain to students problems that the park deals with daily, such as erosion control, water runoff issues, evasive species removal, as well as park conservation tactics and park history. In addition to learning about these problems, students will have the opportunity to apply their new knowledge and help establish new plant growth through soil retention tactics on the hillsides of the park. They will learn how to create stakes composed of live sticks and up down jute matting to hold the ground where it is so that further degeneration of the hillsides will not occur. This field trip will help students connect with and understand their local environment on a different level. They will explore native flora and fauna and gain insight into how they all interact together.

Learn more about Schenly Park Tour.

wind farm photoWind Farm

This would be a self guided tour that a faculty could take their students on. Somerset Wind Farm and Mill Run Wind Farm are the closets Wind Farms in proximity to CMU. In addition to seeing how these massive structures work in real time and space, students will learn about the size, capacity, wattage, and technical components of the turbines.

Learn more about wind farms.