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Resources for a Virtual Field Trip

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 -- Scott Sterling

Let’s be honest: field trips may be worthwhile, but they’re incredibly stressful for teachers and chaperones. Logistics being what they are, it’s sometimes not practical to take 200 students anywhere.

This is why virtual field trips can be a worthwhile substitution. Simply visit these sites and then project the results on your smart board or projector. Student learning is enriched and you save the headache of 200 liability waivers to catalog.

The Smithsonian

Some of the most popular museums in the world have made it really easy to visit from your computer using the Smithsonian museum website. Each museum is listed, along with their own web address, which can be a great resource for teachers trying to organize a thematic unit. Simply mouse over each museum picture to find one that interests you, then click.

The history museums go one step further, making a virtual visit not only possible, but also a highly enthralling experience.

For example, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has provided a panoramic virtual tour, accessible from desktop computers or mobile devices. The virtual tour lets visitors take a self-guided walk through the museum’s rooms, just as if they were there.

Google Lit Trips

If a literary character travelled anywhere in the world, those travels can probably be found at Google Lit Trips. Using Google Earth, the movements of characters through a story (for example, Night or The Odyssey) are traced in the virtual world. Zoom in to see what those places look like today.

Polarhusky.com

Polarhusky allows students to accompany arctic researchers as they explore the frozen tundras of the world. Activities are shown in real time as the expedition takes place, which means that you need to wait until March for the next expedition to begin. Once it does, students can interact with the trekkers through video, chats, and lesson plans that bring the arctic into the classroom.

NASA’s Mars Analog Virtual Trip

NASA’s Ames Research Center uses sites around the country to test the vehicles and technologies they send to Mars. This virtual field trip takes students on a tour of these sites to find out why they are similar to the Martian landscape. A great trip for science classes, like geology or astronomy.

The White House

The White House interactive tour, although not panoramic, lets students wander around the White House, even into some rooms you wouldn’t be allowed to visit during a tour. The most important rooms, like the Situation Room, have accompanying videos. A lot of the rooms have history that goes back more than a century.