Hands-On Learning Opportunities Abound at Paradise Park

Teachers and home educators seeking top-notch, hands-on learning field trips to support your academic goals and excite your students: look no further.

Every child wants to go to Paradise Park. They know it’s their kind of place filled with fun and adventure; every detail invites play, imagination and freedom to be a kid. Combine this atmosphere with excellent educational offerings and you’ve got a recipe for an academically successful field trip that kids will not only learn from but also have lots of fun doing.

“Field trips are often the highlight of a students’ year and creating a trip that both invigorates students and stimulates knowledge is challenging,” says Naomi Burwell who designs field trip curriculum for Paradise Park. The adventure park may be known for its bumper cars, go carts, miniature golf and arcade, but did you know it also has provided substantial educational field trip opportunities for more than 11,000 students?

Paradise Park offers 21 field trip experiences, with six to 10 lessons within each topic, including Alphabet Mania, Math Counts and Nutrition Adventure. Many subjects offered are the challenging, least favorite or most cost prohibitive in the classroom such as Hunting Geometry, Matter Matters: States and Density. The format includes four, 15-minute activities in one hour of education, and one hour of exploration and play. And it’s not just for little kids; Paradise Park offers topics for preschool through 8th grade.

“Our goal is to make academic subjects that kids read about in their textbooks real and teach them how they apply them in their lives,” says Burwell.

These experts in “all things fun” actually have a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge behind what they do for kids and families. The field trip offerings include detailed curriculum meticulously developed with care by Burwell, a retired teacher herself with 31 years experience. She has not only taught science and physical education to elementary students; she has taught future educators how to teach chemistry and physics at Central Missouri State and Rockhurst.

Burwell writes, creates worksheets and builds the materials for all of Paradise Park’s field trips, and makes sure that the curriculum meets state standards. Burwell has a passion for facts and accuracy and so provides detailed scripts for each lesson to ensure what is taught is factual. She also consults with other former teachers with equal amounts of experience who evaluate the program’s strengths and weaknesses and assess age-level effectiveness.

“A lot of my inspiration comes from what I remember as being fun when I was a kid,” Burwell says. “Even as a child I was inquisitive, always wanting to know ‘why’ and ‘what if.’”

Those memories combined with her experience in the classroom results in extraordinarily fun experiences for students to learn science, history, math and much more, including things like tug o’ war with pulleys to teach a lesson in force.

“Even the littlest child can pull six of his buddies with his finger because he has the strength needed with the help of the pulleys,” Burwell says. What kid wouldn’t remember that science lesson?

“We offer totally student hands-on activities,” Burwell says. “They do not sit and watch, they are doing something all the time.”

Research supports that “hands-on learning” has tremendous benefits to the learning process for kids. This includes increased learning, motivation, enjoyment, skill development, thinking and decision making, creativity and perception. Paradise Park’s field trip curriculum is entirely experiential and engages children in observing, investigating and understanding experiences in a fun environment. Having an experience with a subject helps students to remember the experience rather than memorize what someone says about it.

“Hands-on learning is much more fun than someone telling you what to do,” says Burwell. “It helps them take ownership of what they’re learning.”

Many of the programs are science related because of her background as a science teacher. “Force and Motion” is their most popular field trip.

“It is easy to adapt to elementary or middle schoolers and is a favorite of homeschoolers because of the effectiveness of the topic for a variety of ages,” says Burwell.

“We are able to bring in things students aren’t normally able to experience in the classroom,” says Burwell. “We graph a rock wall, explore balanced and unbalanced forces (Newton’s First Law of Motion), draw a grid map of the rock wall using the exact same things Christopher Columbus or Marco Polo would use.”

Twelve retired teachers with 30 years experience or more comprise the staff that instructs every lesson.

“All of our teachers love to teach,” says Burwell. “They are amazing, talented teachers who are experts at techniques. I have three exceptional gals who know every kiddo’s name by the end of their 15 minute lesson.”

The facilities are immaculately clean and safe with a staffed gate area especially helpful for younger children.

Burwell collaborates with educators to customize the field trips to meet exactly what teachers are looking for. “When we create the field trip for our clients, we are very conscious of what the curriculum demands are,” Burwell says. “For instance, if they are doing addition with three numbers, we might make cookies in the kitchen adding together sets of three ingredients.”

The field trip can reinforce what a teacher has already taught, introduce what is going to be taught or be a culmination of what has already been covered.

“One of the things we do that’s kind of unique is you don’t have to stick to one topic,” Burwell says. That means the four different lessons can be related or completely unrelated.

Burwell encourages teachers to call and dream with her about a field trip for their students. All the details about lesson topics, pricing and contact information is available at their website, Paradise-Park.com, or by calling 816.246.5224.