This summer Neil Choudhary, 14, will make a figurative bid for the moon when he takes that giant leap across the Atlantic to visit the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US.
Choudhary, named after astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, will be making this trip as part of a school contingent visiting the space station.
“I’m really looking forward to the trip,” said Choudhary, a student of NES International School in Mulund. “From childhood I’ve wanted to become an aeronautical engineer and I can’t wait to learn a whole lot of things at NASA.”
The programme includes learning rocket building, robotics and meeting NASA scientists. Around 20 other students have signed up for this trip.
Gone are the days when a school excursion meant a three-day trip to Mahableshwar and Panchgani - foreign trips are the done thing now.
“We wanted to give students the opportunity to get some practical exposure,” said N Balasubramanian, director of the school. Schools are branching out and taking wing, sending their students to exotic locations for study trips and school excursions.
Class 4 students of Fazlani L'Academie Globale in Mazagaon set off to Egypt last year. The lesson: ancient civilisations. Class 11 students of DY Patil International School in Worli sampled the delights of local theatre in Bali last year. The lesson: the international curriculum’s Creativity-Action-Service module. For every lesson, there is an equal and corresponding potential destination to visit for a hands-on experience.
This year, students of Oberoi International School in Goregaon headed off into the jungles of Thailand and to delve into the urban thrills of Singapore as part of school excursions.
For students of Classes 5 and 11 who visited local Thai schools, went camping overnight in the jungle and soaked in local customs, it was nothing short of thrilling.
“Education does not take place only inside the classroom,” said Andreas Swoboda, head of Oberoi International School. “It’s about application-based teaching. Plus we want them to see other cultures so that they become global minded.”
The Egypt and Bali trips were optional, but “recommended”. “Since it was an overseas trip we didn’t force anyone to send their children, but most people signed up for it,” said Husein Burhani, academic director of DY Patil.
Such trips might cost up to Rs40,000 per head. But parents are happy to send their children, say principals. “We didn’t face any resistance from parents,” said Swoboda. “No one was left behind on financial grounds.”