While at Apple Camp this Summer, Mom struck up a conversation with an employee who also happens to be one of the Field Trip coordinators for the store. The coordinator explained that during the school year Apple Stores offer FREE customized field trips for public, private, & home schools as well as for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and any other group serving children ages 6-13. Like camp, field trips are free. As Mom is the Field Trip coordinator for her homeschool group and Boy’s Den Leader in Cub Scouts, this is amazing news. We immediately registered to receive notification on Apple’s “Youth Programs” page.
Due to the September release of the iPhone 5 and the November release of the iPad Mini ~ the Fall field trip availability was relegated to a few select dates in October. Many local stores opted not to hold classes at all. Mom snatched the latest date available to allow plenty of time for others in the group to register.* It was simple to set up online. From the “Youth Programs” (or the specific store’s) page, Mom selected the location, date, and provided information about our group and the goals of the class. Mom immediately received an e-mail confirming registration. Within 24 hours one of the store’s coordinators called back to confirm our field trip.
We were given the option to focus on iPads or Macs. As many of the families who would be registering own iPads, that was the direction we chose. Now, as with all things homeschooling ~ our approach can be quite different. Unlike most of the trips Apple sets up, our students are not all the same age and we aren’t studying the same subjects at the same time. We opted for the iMovie app** to give them the greatest flexibility. A week before the class, Mom called in with the number of students and their shirt sizes. We were pleased that they were willing to accommodate a late registration the Friday before our Monday class. On Saturday, the gentleman who was actually leading the class called to confirm details.
We arrived Monday morning before the store even opened. Our class of 10 students sat around the table as the instructor introduced himself & another employee who was assisting. He demonstrated a few basic features of the iPad and spent about 15 minutes covering the iMovie app itself: loading pictures, visual effects, music, sound effects, editing, etc. Then, he handed each student an iPad pre-loaded with pictures of various historical figures, a 10+ song playlist to choose from, and a plethora of sound effects. Like any great teacher, he was there to facilitate and answer questions while the students learned from exploring the product.
Students went right to work, occasionally asking how to work a certain feature or if a certain vision was possible. They were also free to film themselves and their friends. After about 40 minutes all of the students had finished with their creations. The instructor collected the iPads and gathered the students around a large screen TV. The iPads were then individually docked and each student’s movie was shown. Just as we found with camp, it was interesting to see the child’s personality come out in their work. Some were serious, others humorous, some focused on the visual features while others enjoyed toying with the music and sound effects. They enjoyed having their work displayed and watching what their friends had created. Each student received a T-shirt and Mom received a disk containing their movies.
This was an excellent experience and we hope to go again in the Spring. The registration process was simple, communication with the store was excellent, and the students not only enjoyed themselves, they left with new skills. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Apple Field Trips to any group.
*To clarify, our homeschool group has a registration system for classes and field trips. Individual attendees registered with the group NOT with the Apple store directly.
**While there is no cost for the class and iPads are provided for students to use, users wishing to download iMovie on their personal iPad/iPhone/iPod will need to pay for the app. Currently, it is $4.99.