To the Zoo!

Preschool students and NASH mentors recently took an educational trip that brought them face to face with the animal kingdom.


Libby Herne

NASH senior Libby Herne and a preschool student pose in front of giraffe exhibit.

Libby Heckert, Staff Writer

Some of our strongest childhood memories come from school field trips, but most children have to wait until they’re actually students to participate in this rite of passage. However, for the preschoolers who work with students in NASH’s Preschool Practicum class, a field trip to the zoo recently became a reality, even before Kindergarten.

On Tuesday, April 25th, the NASH Preschool set out for the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. The class, which allows teenage students to understand how young children interact and learn at a young age, includes trips outside the classroom.

Before the class took their trip, the preschoolers were taught about different types of animals, including their bone structure and survival techniques. NASH students played an active part, with the junior and senior mentors teaching the children through interactive lesson plans and PowerPoints. 

Senior Lauren Rogers sees the class as providing valuable skills that will help in the future.

“My favorite part about taking Preschool is seeing and teaching the kids,” she said. “I plan to work with children in my career, so it’s great to have some experience.”

The class traveled to the zoo to give the kids the chance to see the animals they’d been studying in real life. Many of the preschoolers had never been to the zoo, so it was their first chance to see animals such as tigers and sharks in person. 

Senior Abby Profozich reinforced that the trip provided an active learning experience for the preschoolers.

“We went to the zoo to teach the kids about all the different types of animals that are found in the exhibits, how they live, and how they are treated,” Profozich said. “We learned a little bit about each animal with the preschoolers while we were there.” 

Rogers also saw the trip as a special experience for the preschool students.

“My favorite part about going to the zoo with the kids was seeing how excited they were,” Rogers said. “They got to see their favorite animals, some of which they’d never seen before. Their excitement was contagious and just so fun to see.”

Senior Heidi Santola shared that an important part of Preschool Practicum is learning firsthand about growth and development by observing the effects of different teaching techniques, including field trips.

“I’ve learned different approaches to help the kids learn in different ways,” she said. “Not everyone learns things the same way, so tailoring it to each individual has been something valuable I’ve learned.”

Senior Zoe Campbell also thought that it was invaluable for the kids to see animals up close at a young age.

“My favorite part of going to the zoo was seeing how excited the kids were to see different animals,” she said. “It was also really cool seeing which animals and species each of the kids gravitated to the most.”

Some students, such as senior Claire Clemmer, enjoyed the trip as much as some of the kids did.

“It was so rewarding to see how excited the kids were when they saw the animals for the first time,” she said. “It was so cute seeing their reactions.”

Many students, such as senior Libby Herne, feel that, in addition to offering the chance to take part in fun field trips, the Preschool Practicum class is valuable as a respite from the a hectic schedule.

“I highly enjoy the preschool class because it is nice having a break in the day from all my hard classes,” she said. “The happy kids make every day so much better, and they make it a very rewarding experience overall.”