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5 Best Virtual Field Trips

Cross posted at: 5 BEST Virtual Field Trips Kelly Tenkely | TheApple.com Field trips can be amazing learning experiences.   They provide students with the opportunity to actively participate in education, offering learning possibilities that aren’t readily available in the classroom.  Unfortunately, it isn’t always practical or possible to take students on field trips.  Tight budgets, location, transportation, time, and resource restrictions can keep your students school-bound.  Virtual field trips can fill this void.  Virtual field trips have come a long way from the page of links they used to be.  Now students can explore the world with simulations that are so realistic, they will believe they have left the classroom.  Below are five of the best virtual field trips on the web: Virtual Field Trip #1: Smithsonian Museum Not all cities have access to an incredible natural history museum like the Smithsonian.  This virtual tour is the next best thing to taking an actual field trip to the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian Virtual Museum is truly remarkable.  Students can ‘step’ into the exhibits and take a tour through the entire museum in a 360 degree environment.  The virtual museum is made up of panoramic pictures of the actual exhibits inside the Smithsonian.  Using their mouse, students “walk” through the museum room by room. They can zoom in, look left and right, look up and down, and walk forward or backward.  Camera icons throughout the museum show students hot spots where they can get close to an exhibit panel.  As students explore the museum, they will see: the ocean hall, ancient seas, dinosaurs, early life, fossils, plants, mammals, African cultures, the Ice Age, Western cultures, reptiles, insects, butterflies, bones, geology, gems, and minerals. Students can explore the various exhibits on individual computers in a computer lab setting or life size with an interactive whiteboard or a projector.  Split your students into groups and assign them an exhibit to explore and take notes on.  After students have explored and become the ‘expert’ on their exhibit, project the Virtual Smithsonian Museum on an interactive whiteboard/screen.  Explore the museum as a class. As you enter an exhibit, invite the group who explored the exhibit to act as tour guides. Even if you have access to a natural history museum for field trips, the Smithsonian Virtual Museum is still incredibly useful.  Prepare for a field trip to your local history museum by visiting the virtual museum.  After the field trip, students can compare and contrast what they saw at the local museum with the Smithsonian. Virtual Field Trip #2: UPM Forest Life A field trip to a forest is a wonderful way to learn about tree species, ecosystems, habitats, and animals.   The UPM Forest Life virtual field trip will have your students believing that they are actually in a forest smelling pine trees. UPM Forest Life aims to teach about forest sustainability.  It does this by inviting students to take a virtual hike through a forest.  The forest is made up of panoramic pictures of an actual forest.  Students can zoom in, look up and down, left and right, and ‘walk’ through the forest with their mouse.  Students start their field trip with a virtual tour guide.  As students ‘hike’ through the forest, they will click on hot spots that reveal videos of forest life, pictures with information, and sounds.  Throughout the forest are opportunities for learning about forest planning, harvesting, regeneration, re-spacing, thinning, transport, recreation, training, berry picking, bird watching, hunting, fishing, natural forests, valuable habitats, deadwood, forest structure, water, native tree species, and the various animals that call a forest home.   This virtual field trip is impressive on individual computers and amazing when viewed as a whole class on an interactive whiteboard or with a projector.  Allow students to take turns acting as forest rangers. They can click on various videos, pictures, and information embedded in the forest.  Students can record their observations of the forest, trees, animals, and sounds they experience in an observation journal. Virtual Field Trip #3: Moon in Google Earth The moon is no longer off limits for field trips!  Students can visit the moon virtually using Moon view in Google Earth.  Google Earth makes for excellent virtual trips around the world; in Google Earth 5.0 you can also take your students to the moon. Moon in Google Earth makes it possible for students to take tours of Apollo missions to the moon, from takeoff to landing – all narrated by Apollo astronauts.  Students can explore 3-D models of landed spacecraft, zoom into 360-degree photos of astronaut footprints on the moon, watch rare TV footage of the Apollo missions, and, of course, explore the surface of the moon.   Take your virtual field trip to the moon as a class with an interactive whiteboard/projector, or send students on their own mission to the moon using student computers.  Assign groups of students to an Apollo mission to explore.  When the ‘astronauts’ return to earth, they can tell other students about their mission to the moon or write a newspaper article about their journey. Virtual Field Trip #4: Planet in Action Real field trips don’t allow for adventures like a helicopter ride above the Grand Canyon, an expedition to Mount St. Helens, or a helicopter tour of Manhattan or Disneyland Paris.  Planet in Action makes all of these possible with the help of Google Earth. Planet in Action is an outstanding way to bring learning to life.  Students can take a guided tour of the Grand Canyon, Mount St. Helens, Manhattan, or Disneyland Paris or take control and explore on their own.  These journeys are incredibly lifelike on an interactive whiteboard/projector.  Take your whole class on a virtual helicopter ride above famous landmarks that they are learning about in class.  First, watch the recorded tour and discuss the different landmarks as you see them.  Then ‘hire’ a student helicopter ‘pilot’ who can navigate a trip for the class.  On individual computers, students can create postcards of their virtual field trip or create their own virtual tour that can be saved and shared with others or with Planet in Action.  As students fly above the landmarks, a Google Map will show them exactly where they are in the virtual tour. Virtual Field Trip #5: AR Sights Most students probably won’t have the ability to travel to the pyramids or the Eiffel Tower for a field trip. Augmented Reality makes it possible to see these landmarks, and more, using Google Earth in 3-D. Augmented Reality requires a webcam, browser add-on, and a printout provided by the AR Sights website. After a simple graphic is printed out, it is held up to a webcam.  Students will see a landmark spring to life right before their eyes on the computer screen.  As the printout is tilted, twisted, and moved the landmark moves accordingly.  Students can view the famous landmark in 360-degrees, 3-D, and up close.  It is truly incredible! AR Sights makes it possible to view Google Earth right in a web browser and then zoom into places of interest, looking at them in 3-D with Augmented Reality.  Students can ‘fly’ around Google Earth, when they find a place of interest, they will hold the printout up to the camera and explore the landmark.  This is an amazing visual method for learning about geography and famous landmarks.  If you only have access to one webcam, use it with a computer connected to a projector or interactive whiteboard for whole class exploration. Geography, budget, and time are no longer field trip restrictions.  With virtual field trips, students can explore the universe using a computer.  These simulations are so realistic that your students will believe they have traveled the universe, actively participating in their learning.

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TimeMaps- History of World 3500BC to 2005AD in interactive maps

Posted by admin | Posted in Evaluate, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 05-04-2012

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What it is:  TimeMaps is a fantastic site I learned about from an email I received today.  TimeMaps lets students look at every nation, empire and civilization as one story through maps. This is the history of the world from 3500BC to 2005AD!  There are pinpoints on the Atlas that let students drill down into specific areas, nations and civilizations.  Students get a story about what is happening in this portion of the world, as well as opportunities to explore even further.  Below the map, students can change the date on an interactive timeline.

I really like TimeMap as a way to explore history.  As I have mentioned in the past, history was not my subject in school.  I made good grades, but was never interested by it.  It wasn’t until I was adult, that I began to appreciate history.   In school, history was always just presented as a collection of facts.  I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around how they were all related or why I should take up valuable brain space memorizing them.  As an adult, I came to realize that history is really all about stories.  I love stories!  TimeMap’s brilliance is in the way it unfolds the stories in history with the visual of the map.  Not only are students getting a good understanding of how civilizations shaped the world, they are also learning geography.

How to integrate Time Maps into the classroom: The best way for students to interact with this site is to just give them the freedom to explore.  I know for most, this isn’t always an option.  There are certain time periods and portions of the world that you are responsible teaching in your grade level.  For those that fall into that category, let students go to those specific places within TimeMap. 
If you have an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, you can explore as a whole class, reading the stories together.  The nice thing about this option, is that you can pull in other videos, music and resources for the whole class to experience.  How great would it be to combine this site with History for Music Lovers on YouTube?  TimeMap will give students context for other exploration.
TimeMap can be set up on classroom computers for students to visit as a supplement to the other work they are doing.  It can act as a research center for students to visit as they are working and learning.
If you teach World History, students could use TimeMap as a place to gather information.  Each student could select a different civilization from one time period or explore the same place and the change throughout time.  Students can create trading cards, videos, comics, non-fiction, a song, etc. to present their findings to the class.  It would be fun to have a movie premier night or a read-in comic day to view all of the students projects.
Tips: I’m really impressed by the comprehensiveness of this site.  The only thing that would make it better are images and video embedded with the map!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using TimeMap in  your classroom!

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