Career exploration is a critical component of the technology-based learning programs at the Payson Center for Success high school. The explorations are part of the life and employability skills class that is required each semester.
Field trips are taken to businesses that, "go in depth into what skills are need, what the job actually entails. They see it in reality," said Principal Kathe Ketchem.
Students have already taken field trips to Sea World, the Mayo Clinic and Grand Canyon University, a private college.
Most students agreed that the trips were fun, yet quite a bit of preparatory work had to be completed prior to the activities.
"We had to conduct research projects on the marine mammal of our choice... before going on the educational tour," wrote student Jayme Murray in the Nov. 2005 edition of the school's newspaper, Spirit of the Dragon.
The research had to include scientific classification, adaptation, behavior and the impact of human activities on a particular marine species. Students were asked to determine the number of species in a given area based on environmental conditions and the area needed for survival.
At the annual field trip to the Mayo Clinic, students do not just explore careers in medicine; they see how the business office runs as well, so they leave with an overview of the scope of operations in a hospital.
Krista Ramey and Jayme Murray went on last year's Mayo trip.
Ramey said she plans to become an X-ray or ultrasound technician. Murray said she has not decided whether she wants to be a registered nurse or physician's assistant, but she starts her certified nursing assistant classes at Gila Community College in January.
At Mayo, they were able to scrub out and dress as surgeons and view an operating room as well as visiting the epilepsy center.
It was interesting for them to see how the Mayo staff communicated with each other, said teacher Linda Gibson.
"They didn't have an overhead sound system," Murray said. "Each employee had their own cell phone, so if you needed somebody you called right to them."
Another thing Murray said she thought was interesting was the vacuum system that went from the pharmacy to various floors. It was similar to the drive through of a bank.
Students noticed there was no smoking anywhere, even on the outside grounds, making for a healthier environment.
At one time, senior Nickia Foss' goal was to become a nurse. Now she said she would like to make a career in field forensics. On the Grand Canyon University field trip, she saw a cadaver.
"The top of the heads were cut off so you could see the brain," she said.
"All the skin was removed, so you could see all the organs and stuff," added junior Alyssa Korth. "The ligaments were attached so you could see how everything worked. The only skin was on the fingers."
"Dead Men Tell Tales" was a workshop in forensic science given by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner at GCU.
"His opening line was ‘dead bodies give us information to protect the living,'" said teacher Linda Gibson.
Students who attended learned how far away a victim of a gunshot wound was from the shooter, causes of death in car accidents and the effect of various diseases on the body.
"It was really gory," said Murray.
Student work is not over when the field trip ends. After the trip to GCU, they had to write a synopsis of the three workshops they attended and whether they had come away with an increased desire to go into the medical field.
Going on the field trips helps us choose a career, said Korth.