The Thomas Hardye School

Florida Tour 2016


Florida Group

The annual Thomas Hardye School Florida science tour took place, with 64 students, over the February half term. The trip leader Mr Munro and 6 other members of staff supervised a packed itinerary of science, culture, education and fun. Our tour included locations such as; Orlando, Tampa, Cape Canaveral, Miami Beach, Key Largo and the Florida Everglades. The diversity and concentration of wildlife together with unparalleled historic space travel and perceptible cultural differences make this tour outstandingly memorable.

The Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral is inspirational for its ambition and achievements.  The visit included a tour around launch site 39a where every manned space mission from NASA has launched, a simulation of a shuttle launch and standing under a Saturn 5 rocket. Alan Sheppard’s Apollo 14 space suit with moon dust covering it is on display along with other space travel history. The Atlantis Shuttle display is brilliantly presented and describes the current and recent past social history of space exploration.

The Thomas Hardye School party visited an animal rescue centre in the Florida Everglades once again. The rescued animals (lions, tigers and a panther) came from private collections and would have been destroyed if the rescue centre couldn’t take them in. Last year our students were very vocal about the conditions the animals were kept in and requested changes to the animal pens. A new pen for the lions has been built, which has increased space for all the animals. Following this year’s experience, we have requested better signage providing information and life stories for the animals. This is a great example of direct action from our students making positive changes to the welfare of the animals.

Taking trips on the swamp buggies and on the airboats rides around the everglades would have been enjoyable enough, however, the racoons, squirrels, deer and gators seen on these trips were out-shone by the air boat captain diving into the mangrove to retrieve a 5 foot boa constrictor. These snakes are an invasive species reported to have reduced some native species in the everglades to 20% - - a real conservation story happening in front of us!

The dolphin encounter experience in Key Largo was superb. The enthusiasm, passion and professionalism of the staff was inspiring. They were excited to have The Thomas Hardye School visiting again as we were helping with funding for their research. We had 3 activities to work through: lectures on conservation and research, training activities and our dolphin encounter. In groups of 4 we all spent 30 minutes in the ocean lagoon interacting with a pair of dolphins. The dolphins were elegant, powerful, gentle and on occasions mischievous.

New for the Florida tour this year was the snorkelling at the marine conservation site off Key Largo. The emphasis on conservation and the resulting diversity of wildlife including soft corals, parrot fish, barracuda and angel fish was amazing. There was a real buzz of excitement after this activity.
One evening, the students went to the Amway stadium in Orlando to watch the Solar Bears ice hockey. The excitement generated by the electric atmosphere and action on the ice was completely captivating. Students were privileged to be invited onto the ice to have pictures taken with the mascot and two of the victorious players. Later in the week the students saw the NHL Florida Panthers ice hockey team play in Miami. The skill and pace of the match was incredible. To witness the American culture at a major sporting event was so different to the UK. The iconography of the American flag and Bald eagle, their national anthem and praising first responders and the military veterans were symbols of national pride that left a great impression.
The tour also included a visit to the iconic Miami Beach. The white sand and art deco buildings make it a wonderful place to visit. The annual football game was tightly contested this year. A great time to exercise off some of the fast American food.

The tour also includes visits to the theme parks. Busch gardens with the fastest roller coasters and Universal studios with the Harry Potter World and Marvel village provided feasts for the eyes and senses with the Wet and Wild water park washing away the travelling. The Blue Man group show is hilarious and captivating.

Our students proved once again that they are intelligent, sensitive, respectful and mature young people. They made the most of opportunities made available to them, expanding their knowledge and understanding of the world around them.

Thanks are due to Mrs Skeldon for help with the administration of the trip and Dr Rowe, Miss Sainsbury, Mr Reader, Miss Ashton, Mr Norman and Miss Thompson for their time and company on the tour.

Mr Munro

Florida Group

Florida Trip

Florida Trip

Florida Trip






March 2016