Tips for Taking Students on Field Trips

Tips for Taking Students on Field Trips

Sarah Pittock has compiled the following tips for those instructors interested in taking their PWR students on off-campus field trips. (Word doc: Field Trip Tips)



You need to have the costs of your trip approved two weeks before you go.  Funds available for each section are ~$75.  Additional funding is available if the need is well argued. 

Transportation Options:

Marguerite and Caltrain can take students many places.  Give them a handout the class period before the trip that details the address of the destination and the transportation schedules, including additional times for the Marguerite and Caltrain should they need an alternative.

Meet at the Caltrain station at an appointed time; instructor should arrive earlier to buy the Caltrain tickets.  It’s generally easier to buy the all-day pass.  The Palo Alto Caltrain station is about a 15-20 minute walk from most parts of campus, or 5-10 minutes on bike.

To use a van, fill out a form at the Haas Center and let them photocopy your driver’s license.   If you do not have a California license, you will need to get some additional paperwork from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.  Details can be found on the Haas Center’s website.   The largest vans are 7 or 8 passenger, so you would need to rent 2 to take an entire section somewhere and have an additional driver.  The driver can be a student, but s/he must be over 18, and have a license on file as well.

If you want to take more than 7-8 students in one vehicle, the Marguerite has some small buses available, and those run around $3-400 for a 4-5 hour trip.  Contact PT&S to arrange for these small buses.


Some reading before the trip can help set up critical thinking/academic context, but if you plan the trip earlier in the quarter, it will likely hasten section bonding.

Consider planning before and after activities to make the most of the trip.  After the trip, students might develop presentations about what they experienced off campus, they might write reflectively, or they might think about how the evidence gathered on the trip contributes to their final research projects.