The benefits of virtual field trips are well known: They’re inexpensive—often free—and are less time-consuming than a real trip. But researching which virtual field trips are best can prove labor-intensive, and many resources are out-of-date.
To help educators save time, we’ve chosen these 10 virtual field trips based on their relevancy, depth and quality of resources, and potential for student excitement.
Know of any other great virtual field trips that didn’t make the list? Be sure to leave your suggestion in the comments section below.
Free to the entire K-12 community, this programming uses the allure of Arctic dogsled expeditions and Arctic research as the vehicle through which K-12 teachers and students gain an understanding of natural and social sciences while they experience the cultures of the Arctic. Since 2000, these adventurous learning expeditions have circumnavigated the Arctic to observe, experience, and document traditional ecological knowledge and collect previously unknown in-situ environmental realities–while collaborating with K-12 students and teachers in state-of-the-art online learning environments. Standard-aligned curricula are also available.
2. Global Trek
This adventure from Scholastic looks like Expedia or Travelocity, but is created for students eager to explore the world … from their computer. Student can choose from a list of countries and will be asked to keep a travel journal to write about different topics during their online trip.
Google Lit Trips are free, downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth. At each location along the journey, there are placemarks with pop-up windows containing a variety of resources including relevant media, thought-provoking discussion starters, and links to supplementary information about “real world” references made in that particular portion of the story. According to their creator, Google Lit Trips “three-dimensionalize the reading experience by placing readers ‘inside the story’ traveling alongside the characters; looking through the windshield of that old jalopy in The Grapes of Wrath or waddling alongside Mr. and Mrs. Mallard’s duckling family in Make Way for Ducklings.”
Sometimes students just want to explore something cool, like chocolate. Thanks to step-by-step videos on its chocolate-making process, Hershey’s gives students a fun virtual field trip … even if it’s minus the smell and taste of chocolate!
5. Le Louvre
Take a virtual tour of the Louvre to experience a 360-degree panoramic view of many of the museum’s halls. The virtual tour web page offers different departments and architectural views of the museum. Tours currently include Egyptian Antiquities, Remains of the Louvre’s Moat, and Galerie d’Apollon, as well as many other rooms included in the museum (some are even closed to the public!).
6. Mt. Everest
From recent panoramas and photo galleries, to travel logs and fun facts, students can make their very own virtual climb of Mt. Everest.
This comprehensive virtual tour allows visitors using a desktop computer (Windows, Mac, Linux) or a mobile device (iPhone, iPad, Android) to take a virtual, self-guided, room-by-room walking tour of the whole museum. Students can browse a list of past exhibits, which is included on the ground floor map. Visitors can navigate from room to room by clicking map locations or by following blue arrow links on the floor that connect the rooms. The desktop version includes camera icons to indicate hotspots where the visitor can get a close-up view of a particular object or exhibit panel.
View high-definition panoramas from anywhere in the world, including snowy mountain tops and deep sea coral reefs, at 360 Cities, which contains one of the internet’s largest collection of uploaded panoramic images. Students can access to navigable views of cities, natural landscapes and much more. The site also offers tools for people to create their own panoramas. For more specific panoramas, check out the Seven Wonders of the World. This website has panoramic views of all Seven Wonders of the World, which include the Colosseum in Rome, The Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan, The Taj Mahal in India, Machu Picchu in Peru Christ Redeemer in Rio, and Chichén Itzá in Mexico.
Take your younger students to the moon with these up-to-date, interactive resources from the Connections Academy Blog. Older students can explore Mars through NASA’s downloadable virtual field trip, an immersive multimedia application developed to support student and user exploration of areas on Earth that have been identified as analog sites to regions on Mars. Analog sites are those areas that share some common traits with sites on Mars and have been identified based on their significance and importance to NASA.
10. White House
“Inside the White House” is a good idea for older elementary and middle school students learning about government, as well as any civics or American history class. Students can watch videos or take an interactive tour through the West Wing, the South Lawn, the East Wing, and the Residence. There is also a slide show of the presidents and other historical information.
Follow Associate Editor Meris Stansbury on Twitter at @eSN_Meris