As a result of the global pandemic caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), many recreational and educational venues remain closed making virtual field trips more popular than ever. Virtual field trips enable you to visit places like zoos, aquariums, parks, and museums in other parts of the world. If you are looking for free virtual field trips to pair with science, history, or art lessons, here are a few ideas to get your search engine started:
From apes to pandas, koalas to tigers, virtual zoo field trips provide opportunities for children to learn about favorite animals while watching live or recorded footage of them. Many zoos have webcams with live feeds in various locations including animal habitats. Additional features on websites for zoos across the country include FAQ sections, webcam activity packets complete with early learning standards for educators and parents to utilize (Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute), innovative habitats that closely mirror natural wild environments (San Diego Zoo), and detailed descriptions and facts about each animal (Houston Zoo). To make lesson-planning easier, many zoo sites have the option to search by video type, animal, and video length. Do a quick search for zoos in any location to unlock a wild world for children.
Whether through virtual tours or live webcams, aquariums offer an exciting look at life under the sea. Through virtual aquarium field trips children can learn about thousands of species of sea life Including sharks, jellyfish, manta rays, and coral reefs. Many aquariums are home to other kinds of animals too, including marine mammals (sea otters) and even birds (penguins). With a quick search you can find aquariums like The Georgia Aquarium, The Monterey Bay Aquarium, and The National Aquarium that offer fun virtual experiences to enjoy with children while learning.
Science centers contain countless fun learning activities like hands-on displays, special exhibits, 4D theatre experiences, and planetariums. Though we can’t participate in these incredible features in person, science centers around the nation have found ways to get us as close to the real thing as possible by offering virtual tours, video demonstrations, and learning from the experts.
The possibilities seem endless with virtual science center field trips. The Michigan Science Center offers a virtual tour of their entire science center, including all exhibits, that allows you to read exhibit signs. It is fun, exciting, and educational. NASA’s Langley Research Center out of Hampton, Virginia has numerous videos to take children on a virtual tour where aeronautics, outer space, and the Earth’s atmosphere are studied.
As an Ohio based company, we must mention the Great Lakes Science Center. Children can learn about exciting science topics like magnets, pendulums, energy, and weather while watching as the folks from Great Lakes Science Center demonstrate a variety of the exhibits offered there like Strange Attractors, Cloud Rings, and the Bridge of Fire. Many science center websites, including Great Lakes Science Center, also offer great resources, activities, and experiments that you can do with children at home or in your child care setting.
Allow children to explore individual works of art with a virtual field trip to any number of art museums around the globe. Many museums are currently offering in-depth looks at drawings, paintings, sculptures, and even fashion right from your child care setting. Thousands of online exhibits provide spectacular views of masterpieces of all types of art media as well as information including descriptions of the pieces, the artist(s), and history of pieces. Whether a museum focuses mainly on a particular region (Uffizi Gallery of Italy) or a specific artist (Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum), you are sure to find an endless supply of art inspiration and education.
Take children on a journey through thousands of years of human history with virtual field trips to history museums. There are history museums that focus on regions, civilizations, military, architecture, nature, anthropology, and much more. You are sure to find a virtual field trip to history museum that will ignite the minds of the children in your care. Children can learn about mammals, insects, and dinosaurs from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History or the art, culture, and history of the Vatican City from the Vatican Museums of Rome. Another unique history museum is the British Museum, which offers an interactive virtual field trip through a timeline of human history. The learning opportunities are endless with virtual field trips through history museums.
Many national park websites offer live webcam feeds so children can see nature in action, in real time. Capture their attention with a live ocean webcam view of a kelp forest and marine life from the Channel Islands National Park.
Yellowstone National Park contains incredible scenery with canyons, hot springs, gushing geysers, lush forests, rivers, and so much more. There are nine live webcams located throughout the park that provide views of current conditions. Your children may even be lucky enough to catch a geyser exploding!
If you have a laptop or tablet available, why not venture outside with the children and virtually visit a national park. Have children compare what they see in their natural environment with what they see during a virtual field trip to a national park, Katmai National Park and Preserve for example. Do they see mountains, rivers, waterfalls, or bears? Do the trees around them look like the same kind of trees?
With a few quick clicks through the internet, you will find a bevy of virtual field trips that are interactive, exhilarating, engaging, and often free. Enhance your history, science, art, or nature lessons while visiting educational venues around the world.