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. There are still plenty of places I want my middle school science students to “visit” that just aren’t possible. An interactive virtual field trip allows students to learn about a remote location, as well as its geology and ecosystem, 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. The virtual field trips I use in my classroom are all hyperdocs with links to videos and articles embedded along with guided questions.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is the hottest, driest, and lowest National Park. The virtual tour starts on the National Parks Service webpage. As students read the webpage, they are asked to identify some weather extremes that have occurred in Death Valley such as the highest recorded temperature (134 degrees Fahrenheit!). Then, students travel to the Racetrack Playa using Google Earth. They explore the mystery of the large rocks that move across the playa seemingly by themselves. The next stop in the virtual tour is the Artists Palette and Zabriskie Point. Students learn which minerals make the different colors in the hills of Death Valley. This is followed by a quick stop at the Badwater Basin which is named “badwater” because it is too salty to drink. Students will also explore Ubehebe Crater which was formed by steam and gas explosions when hot magma rose up to ground water. The Eureka Dunes, our next stop on the virtual tour, is known for its rumbling sound made by sand avalanching down the dunes. Finally, the last stop of the Death Valley virtual tour is an exploration of the adaptations of plants and animals living in this harsh environment.
What do teachers say about the Death Valley National Park Virtual Field Trip?
One teacher who took her students on a trip to Death Valley and gave it 5 stars, saying “Was a fun alternative to an actual in person field trip since we were unable to take any this year.” Another teacher, who used the virtual field trip with her 8th graders, also gave it 5 stars and said “Great for distance learning! I like the format of a field trip.” Another teacher says “I love this product!”
Other Interactive Virtual Field Trips
If the Statue of Liberty sounds like fun, here are some others that my students have been enjoying: