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Interim Term Trips Explore Facets of National Parks and Theme Park Attractions

One of the hallmarks of Interim Term is the various educational travel experiences. Students who travel during Interim Term immerse themselves in a specific discipline as a hands-on approach. This year's weeklong trips included visits to Disney World and Big Bend National Park.

Led by Eric Avera, Isaiah Coleman, Pat Michael, and Robin Owens, 34 students in the "Imagineering: The Science of Disney World" explored theme park design. This engineering-inspired course allowed students to participate in workshops that explored the complexities of designing and building theme parks, such as storytelling, ride design, food, and merchandise. The trip included student-led group projects where they designed and presented their ideas in the world-famous Adventureland. Aside from design, students also focused on the physics of theme park rides, including forces, gravity, energy, and Newton's Laws. Students were also given a chance to go behind-the-scenes at Rockin' Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror as well as visit Universal Studios.

"It was such a unique learning environment," says trip leader and physics teacher Pat Michael. "Although I taught the students some basic physics principles in class the first week of Interim Term, I saw them apply that knowledge in the hands-on activities in the classes and get excited about how the rides worked."

While others were busy learning about theme parks, 14 other students were on an adventure of a lifetime across the Southwest. Led by Kary Kemble and Shelly Edmonds, students visited National Parks in New Mexico and Texas, including White Sands, the Guadalupe Mountains, the Carlsbad Caverns, and Big Bend. With history, geology, geography, and astronomy as the primary focuses, students hiked mountains, slid down sand dunes, and explored caves while learning about the pre-history and culture of Native Americans in the regions. Students also attended a "star-party" at the Macdonald Observatory, where they learned about constellations and different types of stars in our skies, as well as viewing Jupiter, the Moon, and the Pleiades star cluster through telescopes.

"I think the most impressive part was all that we got to experience this in a short amount of time," says trip leader and history teacher Kary Kemble. "We are so lucky at Episcopal to be able to have the opportunity to make these kinds of trips and let the kids see for themselves the geography and to experience the culture of different places."

—Lauren West