Kids love field trips. They’re out of the classroom, get to travel by bus with lots of kids and not enough adults. What’s not to like?
A few items come to mind: Cost, staffing, potential for disaster. And that’s just off the top of my head. There’s a way to provide the field trip experience with few of the risks, no cost, and a fraction of the time away from what is likely an overstuffed education day:
Virtual Field Trips, via the internet.
There are so many options for real-time webcams, conversations with experts (via Skype and Google Hangout), and the opportunity to visit locations that are otherwise inaccessible that classes have embraced this new approach to seeing the world. This enthusiasm has encouraged a cottage industry that often is far from the exciting, realistic experience teachers want for their students. When I search the internet, it seems any site with a camcorder and multimedia resources calls itself a ‘virtual field trip’. Truthfully, many of them are a waste of time. Sure, I like the pictures and the movies, but I don’t feel like I’m there, immersed in history or geography, with a life-changing experience that will live in my memory for decades to come.
Intellectually, I know there are good ones out there. Finally, after wearing through my favorite virtual shoes, I have a list to recommend. These next nine virtual field trips cover topics from geology to history to the human experience. See what you think:
What’s not to love about a website that starts:
Welcome to Earth! It’s a planet having an iron core, with two-thirds of its surface covered by water. Earth orbits a local star called the Sun, the light of which generates the food supply for all the millions of species of life on earth. The dominant species on Earth is the human being, and you’re one of the six billion of them! Humans have iron in their blood, and their bodies are composed of two-thirds water, just like the planet they live on.
Enjoy your stay, and try to stay calm.
360 Cities contains the Internet’s largest collection of uploaded panoramic images. Let’s pause here for a moment. Panos–those wide pictures that cover up to 180 degrees left and right. Right?
360 Cities does panos differently. Let me show you. Here’s one from my iPad:
I have searched long and hard for the type of virtual tour that immerses you in the environment. They’re harder to find than you’d think. Lots of sites promise ‘virtual tours’ and deliver pictures. Somehow, that doesn’t cut it.
Finally, I have a list I can recommend. Some covers acres of land, some a single bone, but all are amazing. See what you think (check here for updates):
- 360 Panorama of the world
- 3D Toads and more–animals, skeletons, etc (some for fee)
- Google World of Wonders
- Pompeii—via Google Earth
- Sistine Chapel
- Virtual Body
- Virtual Capitol
- Virtual Cockroach
- Virtual Farm
- Virtual tours
- Virtual tour (with pictures) of a zoo
- Virtual tours
- Virtual tour–undersea
- Virtual Zoo
- Walk through the Forest (works better in Chrome)
- The White House (go to the White House on Google Earth, then zoom in until you’ve exploded through the walls to the interior. There, you’ll find a virtual tour of the White House.
Schools and kids love field trips, but they take a lot of time, money and extra adult supervision that may or may not be available. Thanks to the internet, there are now alternatives that are only as far away as your technology lab.
Here are some of the best available across the wild web of the internet:
- Smithsonian Museum
- Forest Life
- The Moon via Google Earth
- Mars via Google Earth
- Planet in Action via Google Earth
- Ellis Island
- Eternal Egypt
- A Collection of Virtual Field Trips
- science museums
- Blackwell’s Best Virtual Field Trips
- strife-torn countries
Want a quick tour right now, via YouTube. This is Mars, complements of Google Earth:[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjcCF6cIlPw&hl=en&fs=1&]
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.
Every Friday I’ll send you a wonderful website that my classes and my parents love. I think you’ll find they’ll be a favorite of your students as they are of mine.
With the start of a new school year, there’s no better time to explore every child’s favorite topic: art. What better way than visit a few great online art sites.
Here’s a collection of online resources for great worldwide museums. Take one lesson to introduce students to these six art sites (five to ten minutes on each) and then allow them to revisit when they have a few minutes at the end of a class projects, unit, before lunch, etc.