5 BEST Virtual Field Trips
Kelly Tenkely | Teaching.monster.com
Field trips can be amazing learning experiences. They provide students with the opportunity to actively participate in education, offering learning possibilities that aren’t readily available in the classroom. Unfortunately, it isn’t always practical or possible to take students on field trips. Tight budgets, location, transportation, time, and resource restrictions can keep your students school-bound. Virtual field trips can fill this void. Virtual field trips have come a long way from the page of links they used to be. Now students can explore the world with simulations that are so realistic, they will believe they have left the classroom. Below are five of the best virtual field trips on the web:
Virtual Field Trip #1:
Not all cities have access to an incredible natural history museum like the Smithsonian. This virtual tour is the next best thing to taking an actual field trip to the Smithsonian.
The Smithsonian Virtual Museum is truly remarkable. Students can ‘step’ into the exhibits and take a tour through the entire museum in a 360 degree environment. The virtual museum is made up of panoramic pictures of the actual exhibits inside the Smithsonian. Using their mouse, students “walk” through the museum room by room. They can zoom in, look left and right, look up and down, and walk forward or backward. Camera icons throughout the museum show students hot spots where they can get close to an exhibit panel. As students explore the museum, they will see: the ocean hall, ancient seas, dinosaurs, early life, fossils, plants, mammals, African cultures, the Ice Age, Western cultures, reptiles, insects, butterflies, bones, geology, gems, and minerals.
Students can explore the various exhibits on individual computers in a computer lab setting or life size with an interactive whiteboard or a projector. Split your students into groups and assign them an exhibit to explore and take notes on. After students have explored and become the ‘expert’ on their exhibit, project the Virtual Smithsonian Museum on an interactive whiteboard/screen. Explore the museum as a class. As you enter an exhibit, invite the group who explored the exhibit to act as tour guides.
Even if you have access to a natural history museum for field trips, the Smithsonian Virtual Museum is still incredibly useful. Prepare for a field trip to your local history museum by visiting the virtual museum. After the field trip, students can compare and contrast what they saw at the local museum with the Smithsonian.
Virtual Field Trip #2:
UPM Forest Life
A field trip to a forest is a wonderful way to learn about tree species, ecosystems, habitats, and animals. The UPM Forest Life virtual field trip will have your students believing that they are actually in a forest smelling pine trees.
UPM Forest Life aims to teach about forest sustainability. It does this by inviting students to take a virtual hike through a forest. The forest is made up of panoramic pictures of an actual forest. Students can zoom in, look up and down, left and right, and ‘walk’ through the forest with their mouse. Students start their field trip with a virtual tour guide. As students ‘hike’ through the forest, they will click on hot spots that reveal videos of forest life, pictures with information, and sounds. Throughout the forest are opportunities for learning about forest planning, harvesting, regeneration, re-spacing, thinning, transport, recreation, training, berry picking, bird watching, hunting, fishing, natural forests, valuable habitats, deadwood, forest structure, water, native tree species, and the various animals that call a forest home. This virtual field trip is impressive on individual computers and amazing when viewed as a whole class on an interactive whiteboard or with a projector. Allow students to take turns acting as forest rangers. They can click on various videos, pictures, and information embedded in the forest. Students can record their observations of the forest, trees, animals, and sounds they experience in an observation journal.