Jefferson hosts field trips for elementary and middle schools


Kelsey Stuart, the astronomy teacher at Jefferson, has been organizing field trips to allow elementary and middle school students to visit Jefferson. “The students tour the building, see the research labs, interact with TJ students, and visit the planetarium,” Stuart said.

Hannah Liu, Staff Writer

Starting Nov. 3, Jefferson has begun hosting field trips consistently, allowing elementary and middle school students from around Fairfax County to visit the school. Younger students get to tour the building while also viewing the opportunities offered at Jefferson.

“Every Tuesday and Thursday during second period, [Jefferson] opens its doors to elementary and middle school groups from around Fairfax County. The groups are between twenty to fifty students, and the tours last about an hour and a half,” Kelsey Stuart, the coordinator of the trips, said. 

During the trips, Stuart tours the students first with an administrative welcome, then leads into the research labs, with trips in the past seeing the Robotics lab, Energy systems lab, or Oceanography labs. The tour typically ends with a planetarium show at the end. Each of the tours are different, providing students with a variety of things to see. 

“Some tours see multiple labs while others visit one lab, and then complete a short activity like building a simple robot,” Stuart adds. 

With the addition of these field trips, the accessibility and opportunities to visit Jefferson have broadened, allowing for any elementary or middle school in Fairfax County to come– even those with high transportation fees and long commute times. Throughout November, students from Freedom Hill, Riverside, and Fort Belvoir elementary have already visited, contributing to the grand total of over 1000 students who will be seeing Jefferson this year. 

“Thanks to a TJ Partnership Fund grant, we are also able to ensure this field trip is accessible to Title 1 Schools who may not have been able to afford the busing fees to come on this trip,” Stuart said. 

While these visits have been offered in previous years, it has just been revamped since its pause during COVID-19. This program will be happening regularly until the end of third quarter, in which it will continue during the next school year.

“The main goal is to inspire students to pursue STEM and introduce them to the opportunities at TJ,” Stuart said. “Everyone, the visiting students, our student ambassadors and staff, all love it!”