Addie Jackson, Bonnie Peterson, Jane Settle, Susan Stroope,
Bob Tallman, Mary Willer, Phyllis Unbehagen, and Marcia Zrubek
An interdisciplinary trail is a tour of a designated area designed to acquaint the "tourists" with points of interest while highlighting features of the area involving the selected disciplines. The sample trail included here is a tour of the Princeton University campus involving the disciplines of biology, history, and mathematics. This particular trail requires no special equipment, is designed to be used by a family touring the campus or as a model for creating similar trails in any geographic area.
II. General Suggestions for Creating an Interdisciplinary Trail
1. Find interested representatives from other disciplines.
2. Decide on an area to tour which relates to all of the disciplines. It might be a historic area in or near your city, a park, or a museum.
3. Tour the area with the other participants, designing a route to follow.
4. Write the trail, keeping in mind that participants should be told of any equipment needed, that the trail should be of reasonable length, and questions should lead to discussion, not necessarily one right answer.
5. After writing directions for your trail, walk through it with a small test group, asking for suggestions on clarity.
6. Open your trail at a special time, perhaps National Education Week, the anniversary of some historic event, or the birthday of a famous scientist.
7. Publicize your trail and make it available to others.
III. Princeton Walking Trail
This walking trail includes ten stops. At each stop, a short historical introduction to the building will be given, followed by problems and activities related to mathematics and biology. Feel free to choose as many activities as your interest and time allow. A map and sketches have been provided to assist you in finding your way around the campus.
Special notes on history: It is important for you to relate to your visual environment and to see connections with your past. The nineteenth century offers rich ground in which to work. Many buildings of commerce, culture and industry that were built in the nineteenth century are still standing today and give inspiration to architects of the twentieth century. In the Cambridge Introduction of Art, Nineteenth Century Architecture by David Martin Reynolds, he notes that "now specialists acknowledge that the range of notable achievements in design, technology, and architecture produced from the mid-eighteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century had been outranked by no other century and a half in the history of western architecture" (page 100). Many of the building styles are clearly seen on the campus of Princeton University. But also from the large city to small town America, excellent examples of nineteenth century architecture remain. It is rewarding to find them. The scope of this exercise concludes with the development of the skyscraper and the Chicago School of Architecture. Hopefully, after this tour, you will have a better understanding of architecture.
Special notes on biology: Two hundred and thirty years ago, the buildings atop the hill known as Princeton were barren of vegetation. Thanks to the repeal of the Stamp Act of 1766, the first two trees on the campus were planted. These commemorative trees, found in front of MacLean House, have consequently been dubbed the "Stamp Act Sycamores." This gesture also led to a wide scale focus on the lush vegetation which has continued to today. Many of the trees are in excess of 200 years old! Although MacLean is not one of the featured buildings, a focus on biology must begin here. Other impressive trees surrounding MacLean are the three American elms near the guard house. Yew hedges and rhododendrons flank the structure itself, punctuated by a patio roof of wisteria and a lone dogwood tree near the front of the building at the Fitz Randolph Gate.
As you walk the campus, note the unusual black squirrels in addition to the gray squirrels. They are said to have been introduced here from the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts early in the history of Princeton by one of the past presidents of the University.
Please use the map now to locate Whig Hall and to orient yourself.
Woodrow Wilson Leadership Program in Mathematics
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
CN 5281, Princeton NJ 08543-5281