What is an Interactive Virtual Field Trip
There are times when talking about something just isn’t good enough. Great examples are glaciers, deserts and canyons. Even if my school allowed field trips post pandemic (mine hasn’t) there are still plenty of places I want my students to “visit” that aren’t possible. During remote schooling, I started using interactive virtual field trips to show my students ecosystems and geology in other parts of the world. An interactive virtual field trip allows students to learn about a remote location without leaving their desks. Incorporating videos and interesting articles to read along with some guided questions allows students to experience places they would ordinarily not be able to go.
How do you do an interactive virtual field trip?
The format for your interactive virtual field trip can be any format that your students can access. I typically use hyperdocs with links to videos and articles embedded along with guided questions. I’ve seen other teachers use Google Slides or even Google Forms (warning: Google Forms does not allow embedded links so students will need to copy and paste links which might be a challenge for some students).
Examples of Interactive Virtual Field Trips
One of my favorite interactive virtual field trips is this trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Among its truly fantastic exhibits, this museum’s presentation of the evolution of life on earth is engaging and easy to follow.
Students enjoy visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island via an interactive virtual tour. The National Park Service interactive tour is lengthy and presents a terrific historical background for the island as well as how Hurricane Sandy impacted it.
The Seattle Aquarium offers a 30 minute video tour. While there are no guided questions to accompany this tour, the video does a really good job exploring interactions among organisms at the aquarium.
Monterey Bay Aquarium offers 10 live web cams of jellyfish, sharks, and penguins, among others.
The Georgia Aquarium has 8 live webcams including sea otters, beluga whales, and jellyfish.
The San Diego Zoo offers 11 live web cams of various animals including baboons, koalas, and giraffes.
Learn the night sky with Star Atlas which shows you the stars and the planets in real time and also in the future so you can plan what you want to look for tonight. Take a virtual tour of Mars on the Curiosity rover. The International Space Station recently published a virtual tour here.
Check in with an assortment of live volcano cams and compare action from one day to the next.
Take a virtual tour of the Son Doong Cave in Vietnam.
Look for aurora on Fairbanks AK’s Aurora cam.
The Virtual Archaeology Museum offers fantastic virtual tours of 5 different shipwrecks.
YouTube offers a panda-cam from the Atlanta Zoo, a Shark-cam produced by Explore.org, and a penguin-cam and giraffe cam by the Kansas City Zoo. Southwest Florida hosts an eagle cam which, as of today, has a nesting pair of eagles. Explore.org also hosts a polar bear cam based in the Scandinavian Wildlife Park in Kolind, Denmark. The African Safari cam overlooks the main beach of the watering hole at Mpala Research Centre in central Kenya’s Laikipia County. We saw giraffes, a herd of elephants, hippos, and a crocodile.
- Death Valley National Park – Interesting exploration into the geology and biology of Death Valley National Park. This interactive virtual tour includes guided questions leading students to discover the adaptations of plants and animals in the Death Valley as well as some of the geologic features including the Racetrack Playa, the Eureka Sand Dunes, and Ubehebe Crater.
- Everglades National Park – This 13 page Google hyperdoc includes multiple links to videos and virtual tours as well as guided questions that explore the Everglades including the characteristics that make the Everglades unique. The virtual tour examines how crocodiles and alligators are different and how lily pads work. The Everglades National Park virtual tour also helps students understand invasive species such as the Burmese python that impact the Everglades.
- Glacier Bay National Park – In this interactive virtual tour, students learn about the animals of Glacier Bay and their adaptations. Learn how glacier form, retreat, and calve. Explore the native people of Alaska and learn about the earthquakes of Alaska.
- Redwood National and State Park – Students follow links to make their own observations on web cams and videos and read about living things in the park including the great redwoods, the Roosevelt elk, banana slugs, black bears, and the California Condor and its conservation efforts. This interactive virtual tour also explores the redwoods prescribed fire program and how rangers help to prevent wildfires.
- Yellowstone National Park – Check out a live camera of Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park which includes predictions for the next eruption.
What’s your favorite way to use an interactive virtual tour?