Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Best. Field. Trip. Ever.

You may know how I feel about field trips. I don't like 'em. Last year Sam's preschool class went on a field trip to the recycling center, an excursion that ranks right up there in the top five worst preschool days ever. So now that Jack is in that class, and we were scheduled to go back, I was nervous.

First of all, Jack has been in a spectacularly bad mood all week, and this morning was no exception. It didn't seem like the right time to drag him and Quinn around the grounds of the recycling center, up four flights of stairs to watch garbage trucks from a glassed-in observation deck, and then walk back to the car, which is what we did last year.

It turns out, however, that we got totally screwed last year, and that there is a far better tour of the the Recycling Center. And this one was awesome.

This trip was in a whole other location that the other, and despite unfriendly warnings such as "Stay in your cars until exactly the time that the tour starts," and "There are no public bathrooms," this excursion rocked my world.

A recycling center employee read the kids a story, taught them a song and dance about recycling, and gave them (and us parents) helpful tips about what can and can't be recycled, complete with hands-on demonstrations. When she had the kids each select an item to put in a recycling bin, I was sure Jack was going to pick up a glass bottle and hurl it into the bin, thus spraying himself, the employee, and at least a couple other kids with shards of glass. I was happily surprised when, although he did choose a glass bottle, he gently placed it into the bin just like the rest of the kids.

The kids had good answers for the lady when she asked them about how to recycle and what they put in their bins at home. I particularly liked when one of the little girls raised her hand and said, "I give my cardboard to gerbils." Alex had made the very same observation not a week before. Yay for our little recycling rat-buddies!

Quinn was less enamored with this part of the presentation. I had to sacrifice my camera to him in order to keep him from making too much noise, and ended up with more than 50 pictures on my memory card. Pictures like these:

After all of this, the lady showed the kids pictures of what to expect when they went to see the recycling machines and gave a couple little demos about how the machines work. Then she pulled out a bunch of earplugs. (Ironically packaged individually, although she did have us give her the plastic wrappers so she could take them to the grocery store to recycle them. I guess it's true that the grocery store is the only place you can recycle plastic bags.)

The earplugs were not met with joy by all. Jack was delighted by them:

Quinn was not:

One mom, whose daughter refused to wear earplugs, generously agreed to stay behind with the no-foreign-objects-in-MY-ears group, and the rest of us headed up one tiny flight of stairs to see shit get recycled from an open observation deck:

It was soooooo cool. Jack, who had been a little fidgety during the presentation, was fascinated by the big machines and all the workers who were handsorting the items. We got to see the broken glass sorter, the bulldozers moving giant piles of cardboard, the finished bales of recycled product, and the conveyor belt at the beginning with all the recyclables jumbled together.

I was absolutely spellbound. I almost forget Jack was with me. And while it seemed like one of the worse places to actually work, I could have stayed there to watch for quite a bit longer than the 15 or so minutes we had.

I highly recommend this field trip. And that's high praise from me, She Who Cannot Stand Transporting a Group of Preschool Kids Out of Their Contained Room for Any Length of Time.

Stimey has posted another version of this post, with some of the interesting recycling facts she learned today, at DC Metro Moms. If it's not up already, it will be posted soon! Check it out to find out what happens to the stuff in your blue bins after the big recycling truck picks it up!


  1. That is cool. Thanks for sharing -- I learned a lot from your DC Metro Moms post especially!

  2. I've never been, but it sounds neat. Bubba loves the recycling plant. He came home after the (1st grade) field trip last year and together we built his own recycle city. One of his chores is to take out the blue bags or recycling stuff to the can. No complaints, which is amazing.

  3. Hmmmmm.... I wanna go! Widget would go just to see the trash truck!


  4. Oh it all looks so messy and dirty - and oddly compelling.

  5. Where was this recycling center? I am looking for a good place to take my students this year (my school is in DC) and I want to go where you went! Thanks

  6. @ DC Fellow: The recycling center is the one in Rockville I think they have a couple different tours. Definitely ask about the one where the kids get to see where the workers actually do the recycling. It was awesome!

  7. CAN YOU PLEASE please tell me where said recycling center is? I am trying to plan a field trip for a group of first graders. PLEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAASE. Your link didn't work.


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