On the 5th of December, 2017, forty-four members of the Trinity Community, students, teachers, parents and family, set off on the sixth biennial Maths-Science Tour. Breaking with tradition, this tour was concentrated on the West Coast of North America, affording the possibility of spending more time at each location, and thus allowing a greater appreciation of the places visited. In the following (almost) three weeks, we visited Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Las Vegas and finally Hawaii, before returning to Australia on Christmas Eve.
There were many standout experiences on the trip, including the Space Needle in Seattle, and the Living Computer Museum in Vancouver, which was able to show, through working exhibits, the complete history of the development of the computer from huge mainframe computers of the 1950s and 60s to the ultra fast laptops of today. In Los Angeles, the “Endeavour” exhibit at the California Science Centre allowed us to get up close and personal with one of NASA’s space shuttles, an awe inspiring experience. Also in Los Angeles were the La Brea tar pits, where thousands of fossils of woolly mammoths, sabre-toothed tigers and other assorted Pleistocene fauna have been uncovered and put on display. The dynamic nature of this area is evidenced by the fact that tar still seeps to the surface, ready to engulf an unwitting, slow tourist. The Boeing factory in Seattle was another highlight, where you could get an overview of the huge production lines on which the 747s and the new 787 Dreamliner are assembled. The Atomic Energy museum in Las Vegas gave the opportunity to see little known developments of the Atomic Age, giving pause for contemplation in these uncertain times.
On the trip we also visited some wonderful natural areas, including Grouse Mountain (where some students enjoyed the thrill of snow for the first time), the Capilano Recreation area in Vancouver and the Muir Woods in San Francisco, where the Giant Sequoias showed how majestic nature could be. A night time walk through the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C were enchanting with their Christmas lights on display. The Grand Canyon (where some intrepid souls went out onto the sky walk, allowing you to look directly down through the glass walkway, 1200 metres into the valley floor) was another experience of a lifetime.
No tour would be complete without some cultural “off time”, and this tour was no exception. A visit to Alcatraz is always a favourite, and while at Las Vegas we were able to enjoy the Cirque de Soleil Michael Jackson Show, as well as an ice hockey game, thrillingly won in the dying seconds by the home town team. On a more sombre note, the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbour gave testimony to the sacrifices made by all countries in times of conflict.
All in all, it was an extremely fulfilling tour. Besides the various places and museums visited, one of the greater benefits of such a trip was the sense of community that developed within the participants. While the memory of the trip will fade into the past, this sense of community will last, and will be its permanent legacy.
David Dixon | Teacher Senior School