Eighth Graders Descend on Boston


Laser maze solving with mirrors in MIT (Image source: Lucas Ramondo)

On November 8 and 9, 2017, some of the eighth graders at Trottier Middle School visited Boston over the course of two separate days. Their itinerary consisted of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Prudential Tower and the Mapparium, which is situated in the Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity. Unlike last year’s group that just went to the Museum of Science for one day, this year’s crew went to Boston twice, and the itinerary was quite different.

On day one of the two-day trip, the eighth graders, along with Mrs. Souaibou, Mrs. Leone, and Mr. Griffin, went to MIT on a charter bus to participate in an activity involving lasers and solving mazes with those lasers. The participants were first introduced to basic ray tracing, including the law that the angle of incidence is equivalent to the angle of reflection (the law of reflection). They then used incrementally greater mirrors and lasers to hit a target with the beam. After the conclusion of that activity, the students took a brief lunch break.

After the break, the eighth graders resumed their laser activities. This time, they acquired mazes that they had to solve using one laser and multiple mirrors, bouncing the beam of light around the corners and to the exit.

After a few more rounds of solving mazes with lasers, the day concluded, and the eighth graders were then chartered back to Trottier. Some of the students were disappointed by the first day of the trip. “Most of the things we could’ve just done at my house. But I do feel like I got closer to some people- socially,” one eighth-grader said.

On the second day of the trip, the students of Trottier Middle School once again left for Boston. Upon their arrival in Boston, Mrs. Souaibou, the organizer of the trip, took a group photo near the Boston Public Library, the very first public library. Immediately following the picture, the group got assaulted by chickens, or so-called “pigeons.”

The group then visited the Prudential Center Skywalk. As the highest vantage point in Boston, the skywalk provided a magnificent view of the city.  The Prudential is not the highest building in Boston; however, the John Hancock Tower skywalk was closed following the 9/11 terrorist attack.  “The Skywalk was really cool,” said Mrs. Leone, an English teacher that accompanied the group on the second day of the trip.

The group then descended down to the Shops at Prudential Center for lunch, a hub of numerous restaurants and commercial retail stores. Many dining options were on the table, such as Eataly, 5 Napkin Burger, Top of the Hub, Dunkin’ Donuts, and more. The chaperones, as did many of the students, decided to dine at Eataly, though some chose separate restaurants. Eataly provided numerous Italian dishes and treats for all to enjoy.

After the conclusion of lunch, the crew left the Prudential Center with bellies full and ready to embark on the ultimate leg of the trip, visiting the Mapparium. The Mapparium, situated in the Mary Baker Eddy Library, was built in the 1930’s in the midst of the Great Depression. The map that is shown by the spherical globe dates back to 1935 and hasn’t been updated since. This room is known for its unusual acoustics. A whisper can be easily heard from one end to the other, and when the speaker is in the very center of the Mapparium, his/her sounds are amplified.   

Upon their arrival, a tour guide introduced the library and the history of its construction. The students were directed on a quick tour of the library-turned-museum. A central focus of the tour was the source of the materials used for the construction of the library.  Large sections of the library used materials sourced from remote overseas countries, including countries like Spain, Germany, and France. They also visited the meticulously tiled bathrooms, which Mrs. Leone claimed to be the most memorable part of the trip.

The last stop on the tour was the Mapparium itself. The room is spherical and made out of 608 stained glass panels. The panels were backlit with colorful LEDs, which changed color during the audio lecture about the Mapparium that was played. Many countries are missing from the Mapparium map, such as Vietnam, Israel, and Burkina Faso. This is due to the fact that the map dates back to 1935, and many geopolitical borders have been altered or perhaps completely new ones have popped up since then.  None of the students had visited this museum before.

“Organizing the trip gets easier every year,” Mrs. Souaibou said. “The hardest part is collecting permission slips and money.”  Mrs. Souaibou has been organizing this field trip since she started teaching eighth grade because of her experience as a Boston tour guide.  She has completely changed the itinerary from years past.  Only she knows what is in store for next year.