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Experiential Learning

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn."
–Benjamin Franklin 

Over night class trips connect the curriculum of the classroom to the world beyond campus. Beginning in the third grade, students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in history, the environment, natural science, and experience physical challenges, and grow as students and individuals. 


Third Grade

The third grade trip consists of one night and two full days at the Brandeis Bardin campus of AJU in Simi Valley. It  is a wonderful culmination of the third graders’ yearlong study of Native Americans.  The trip enhances and celebrates the curriculum, promotes healthy social development as well as personal independence, and forms and strengthens bonds among students which are valued for years to come.  The trip is staffed by outstanding leaders from WOLF (Wilderness Outdoor Leadership Foundation) and is chaperoned by Heschel teachers as well as parent chaperones. 


Fourth Grade

 The fourth graders' culminate their study of California with an overnight trip (one night and two very full days) to Sacramento, where students tour the state capitol and Old Town Sacramento, visit the Railroad Museum, and travel to Coloma, where they participate in authentic learning activities, pan for gold, and camp along the American River.


Fifth Grade

The fifth grade overnight adventure at Brandeis Bardin offers the students the opportunity for  “hands on” experiences, hiking, and outdoor adventures.  As our oldest elementary school grade, the trip focusses on a sense of community, cooperation, and the challenges and triumphs of moving up to middle school. Students will not only have an opportunity to bond with their peers but find multiple opportunities for increased independence as well.

Sixth Grade

Sixth graders spend three days and two nights in El Capitan, a stunning area just north of Santa Barbara with access to an impressive slice of the California coast. This proximity to the coast offers broad opportunities to discuss and explore environmental issues including those pertaining to the health and future of our oceans. The Naturalists at Large Institute provide an experienced outdoor education program designed to share the natural and cultural history of the area. Activities are organized to develop environmental conscientiousness, group cooperation, self-confidence, leadership skills, and to create a unique bonding experience for the students. The Heschel staff supplements the program by integrating both academic curriculum and Jewish values into the experience. The students spend two nights in rustic cabins, and are expected to participate in community chores including cooking and cleaning, as well as involving themselves in activities organized to promote an educational and enjoyable experience.


Recognizing the need for students to see and understand the skill set and interrelation of book learning with real-life disciplines, the Sixth Grade Academy offerings embrace diverse disciplines and provide opportunities for students to work collaboratively with peers and adults, including guest experts, in varied fields of study. This one week program has included studies in Law, Entertainment, Sports and Medicine, and Social Entrepreneurship. 

Seventh Grade

The Seventh Grade trip to the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) in Toyon Bay is an exciting experiential study of the marine environment and a marvelous opportunity for students and teachers to interact in an informal educational and beautiful setting, The Institute is located in a picturesque cove that provides an ideal setting to study marine biology.  With a marine mammal museum, terrestrial lab, advanced digital microscope viewing lab, invertebrate lab, shark “petting” tank, snorkeling, and much more, the students learn a great deal about the marine habitat and come away with a sense of environmental stewardship for our oceans. 


Eighth Grade

Every year, as part of the eighth grade curriculum, students choose to go to Israel or the East Coast. During this block of time, the students are immersed in history, culture, and tradition, while also learning to live and work together outside of the classroom setting. These trips reinforce Heschel's commitment to preparing students to become global leaders and citizens. Travel and communal living teaches flexibility and independence and no matter which trip they choose, the students return with a bond and maturation that enhances their final year at Heschel. 


Each year, members of Heschel's eighth grade participate in a program through Federation's Partnership Twinning Program, with Heschel's partner school, A.D. Gordon in Tel Aviv. While in Israel, students visit the A. D. Gordon school, explore Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Masada, Ein Gedi, the Dead Sea, and so much more. The trip provides a powerful opportunity for growth and exploration, immersing students in living history and culture. 

Students gathering for a group photo as they hike through the Negev Desert.



The East Coast trip includes learning and touring in Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington D.C.  From Harvard Square to the Skywalk Observatory, students live the history of the American Revolution while walking the famous Freedom Trail.  In New York and Washington, highlights include ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza and walking around Times Square, visiting the National Mall, Library of Congress and taking the underground tunnel to the Library of Congress. Interacting with one another outside the confines of the classroom provides both accelerated learning opportunities and maturation for the eighth graders.

Students posed in front of the White House while on the D.C. leg of their trip.