Nothing can take the place of a real live field trip, but virtual field trips and expeditions come close. The first virtual web-cams I recall were those that were mounted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources near Peregrine Falcon’s nests here in Ohio. We would never have had the chance to observe these beautiful raptors and their> eyasses (babies) without the help of these virtual exhibits.
Virtual expeditions have definitely come along way since those first webcams. We have been able to observe all sorts of wildlife and visit places we never could have imagined previously. We have kept our browser open for hours listening for wildlife at sites such as National Geographic’s Africam. The Africam is a wonderful example of what a virtual expedition can be. In addition to the live feed to Pete’s Pond at the Mashatu Game Reserve, they also offer the story of Pete’s Pond, A Field Guide to Animals You May See, and you are able to meet two Mashatu Game Reserve researchers. Like many of the sites we have bookmarked and visited over the years, they usually have even more resources available. For example, at the Africam site, I visited the kids section and found several other useful resources as well.
Many of these sites seem to be created by those who have a passion for their subject and it shows.
Here are a few articles and some resources that may help you find other virtual field trips around the world. Happy trails!
The Value of Virtual Expeditions – Judy Aron
Every homeschooler knows what a wonderful learning opportunity travel is for kids. They learn mathematics (conversion rates in currency, distances traveled), history, social studies, geography, art, writing skills… you name it, because travel is a real life experience.
For homeschoolers who have access to the Internet, virtual expeditions are also an incredible resource. There are many web sites which can “take you away” to a particular place, but a virtual expedition is different: it’s more interactive and is added to on a daily basis. These daily unfolding experiences are almost like a real trip.
My children are ages 5, 10 and 13, and through the Internet they have been traveling around the world. This past Spring, thanks to the efforts of GlobaLearn, they were able to join a Trans-Asia Expedition which retraced the steps of Marco Polo and the Silk Route. GlobaLearn is a non-profit company which has built an award winning on-line educational program featuring live expeditions all over the world. Using laptop computers, digital cameras and recorders, their team of explorers recorded their discoveries daily and sent them via a satellite uplink to the server computer in Connecticut.
Good Stuff – Rebecca Rupp
New Virtual Field Trips
New Virtual Field Trips by Gail Cooper and Garry Cooper (Libraries Unlimited, 2001) is an annotated compendium of field trips that kids can take via the Internet, on days when it’s too cold, too snowy, too late, or too difficult to hop in the car — or when the field trip in question is to Japan, Wales, the Amazon River, the bottom of the ocean, the inside of a cell, or the cockpit of the space shuttle.
Mary: What is the purpose of Journey North?
Eve: Journey North’s mission, simply put, is to inspire a sense of wonder! It is to invite children via a global study of wildlife migration and seasonal change to understand ecological systems and the interdependence of living things. We accomplish this by motivating them to think and act like scientists as they share their own field observations of the natural world; puzzle out the impact of changing sunlight, conduct local investigations; and analyze real-time interactive maps and data collected by other classrooms, scientists, and families. Journey North helps educators integrate science, math, technology, geography and other subjects in an exciting, authentic context.
H is for Homeschooling – Scott Stevens
Q is for all the Questions that children ask. Asking questions and searching for the answers is the true art of learning. A simple question from a child like “How do joey kangaroos get into the mother’s pouch?” can lead to a learning adventure of finding books at the library, videos, internet searches, kangaroo craft projects, and more.
From Anchorage to Nome – Lisa Amstutz
The Iditarod, the haunting name, has caught me, transformed me, and will never let me go.
— Susan Butcher, 4-time Iditarod champion
On her seventh birthday, my daughter built a dog sled out of Popsicle sticks to top her birthday cake. This was highly unusual for a girl who normally chooses things like pink ponies or kittens, but not too surprising considering our family’s obsession at the time: the Iditarod.
By the time my daughter’s birthday arrived in February, we had already spent a month exploring Alaska. After carefully charting the course, we selected a team and prepared to run the world’s most extreme race–vicariously, of course, courtesy of the Internet and the public library. This just-for-fun unit study ended up having more educational and entertainment value than anything else we did all year.
The New Seven Wonders – Helen Hegener – HEM Editors Blog
As a kid I was fascinated by the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. They were wondrous creations, all right: the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Lighthouse at Alexandria, the Colussus of Rhodes, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon; I studied their pictures in old National Geographic magazines and thought about the lives of the people who built those incredible testaments to human engineering capabilities.
Resources – Virtual Tours
- American Museum of Natural History – Butterfly Conservatory Cams
- Ancient Roman Villa
- Andes Expedition and Virtual Autopsy
- Congo Trek 360
- Estuary Live
- Interactive Tour of Ellis Island from Scholastic
- NOAA’s Aquarius
- Sealab Antarctica
- The Jason Project
- The Kennedy Center
- The National Zoo
- The Sistine Chapel
- The United States Mint
- The Virtual Cave
- Van Gogh Tour from the Natiaonal Gallery of Art
- Virtual Gettysburgh
- Virtual Tours of the US Government
- Virtual World – Columbia River