Fred Yerzy is a first-time Program Leader from California whose unique WorldStrides program – focused on both science and history – just returned from our Florida science program. He believes that teaching both subjects “adds flavor and balance to the trip, and will keep students engaged the whole time.” We were fortunate to catch up with Fred about his trip just before their departure earlier this month.
Why do you believe that educational travel is so important?
Educational travel is rich in many ways. Parents, students, and even teachers get an opportunity to fall in love with learning all over again. I have taught life science for almost three decades now, and I have noticed the junior high students already getting bored with life – rarely do I see them get excited about learning. With educational travel, it is different. Once we step out of the four walls of the classroom and get our hands dirty, smiles come back. They are laughing, learning, having fun, and asking questions. Learning seems to come back to life to them again, because it is in 3-D and not in a textbook. I think these trips resuscitate life back into everyone, young or old, and make the world seem like an endless wonder.
What are you looking forward to the most about being a Program Leader?
I have always liked the idea of being a Program Leader. I’ve never stopped learning. I find this planet we live on fascinating. I love to travel and want to see as much as I can while I am on this earth. I always get a kick out of learning something new. It is cool to see parents and students open up and say out loud, “This is really neat!” I get goose bumps when I have taught something in my class for years and I see it for the first time in real life.
Why did you decide to merge the science and world history subjects into one trip?
I think history and science should be exposed together on these educational trips. If you balance the trip with a little bit of science and a little bit of history, you can give your travelers some time to digest what they have learned and how subjects relate. In the classroom I have students saying to me, “This isn’t math” or “This isn‘t art. This is science; you can’t mix the two.” Immediately the walls go up and learning stops. They miss the whole idea that sometimes math and art are necessary in science, especially when you are trying to calculate your data or improving observational skills in your classroom.
What do you hope students will take away from this program?
I think integrating science and history will make the trip more enriching and whet their appetites for a lifetime of learning. On the program, we will learn about world history and cultures at Epcot®, snorkel near a vibrant coral reef, study sea turtles, swim with dolphins, learn about the history of America’s space and moon landings, find out more about nature conservation, and kayak through the Everglades. The diversity of this program allows the student to be a sponge for everything and anything – the arts, culture, history, and science – something that I hope they remember for the rest of their lives.