17-Year-Old Founder of The Field Trip Fund Aims to STEM Inequities in Learning Opportunities for Low-Income Students Made Worse by COVID

The Field Trip Fund

Learning loss. It's become an all-too-common term when referring to the effects of the pandemic-forced remote classroom, with students from low-income families among the hardest hit. That fact did not escape 17-year-old Christian Hughes - a junior in the International Baccalaureate® program at Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach - who has a knack for all things STEM. He fast-recognized the mounting inequities for this population when it comes to a vital component of the associated curriculum: field trips. And he decided to do something about it.

Hughes is the founder of The Field Trip Fund, which, as the name suggests, funds field trips for Title I schools, and/or students in need, in coordination with the selected schools and teachers. This week his nonprofit provided fifth-graders at Osceola Elementary School in St. Augustine with a hands-on science experience by MOSH - Museum of Science and History, based in Jacksonville. The program was The Field Trip Fund's inaugural event and came along with a $500 donation to the school to cover costs of future in- and out-of-school field trips.

"COVID has exacerbated an already significant hurdle for underprivileged kids interested in the STEM field. We picked Osceola Elementary for our first grant award because more than half of its enrollment comes from low-income circumstances," explained Hughes. "I know firsthand that field trips spur curiosity and an excitement for learning, yet school budgets increasingly omit these opportunities and inadvertently put kids at a disadvantage. In school districts that are more affluent, parents typically pay for the outings, but that is not a luxury afforded to many families."

For those unfamiliar with the term, STEM refers to a cross-disciplinary program that integrates Science, Technology, Engineering and Math through both hands-on educational experiences and academic instruction. According to the National Education Association, tighter school budgets, standardized tests and heavier workloads have resulted in fewer field trips in recent years and, according to Hughes, that's a big problem.

"Job opportunities in the STEM occupation are growing at a significant rate and wages in STEM occupations tend to be higher. I started The Field Trip Fund to make sure all kids, regardless of their economic circumstances, get to explore their interests in a way that only hands-on experiences can provide and then pursue STEM careers if they choose," he added.  

Teachers can apply for grants for individual students or a classroom through The Field Trip Fund by completing the form and participating in a brief follow-up meeting by phone. To donate, go to thefieldtripfund.org/apply. To learn more about The Field Trip Fund, go to thefieldtripfund.org.

For more information contact: Christian Hughes, 904-304-9876, christian.b.hughes@gmail.com

# ## #

Source: The Field Trip Fund


Categories: Educational News

Tags: Covid, education, equality, field trip, low income, non profit, Poverty, schools, STEM