By Susan Jerrell, TOFT Founder
Virtual field trips open the world to your students. Just because students are learning from home doesn’t mean they can’t explore the world. These virtual field trip options are the next best thing to being there.
Science virtual field trips bring the real world to your students
Bring science to life for your students through space exploration, virtual zoo trips, or visiting an aquarium online. These virtual opportunities will help expand your students’ knowledge of science and make it fun to learn.
Virtual field trips in space
For lesson plans related to space, take a behind the scenes visit of aerospace engineering at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Another interactive space site is Solar System Scope. This site allows students to explore a model of the solar system, night sky, and outer space in real time.
Are you studying planets in your class? Let students take a 360 degree tour of the surface of Mars, actually recorded by NASA.
STEM virtual field trips point to the future
NASA STEM provides great resources for science lessons. Activities are divided into grades K-4 and 5-8. The K-4 activities include Build It, Play It, Read It, Solve It, and Launch It. While students in grades 5-8 can Play It, Train Like an Astronaut, Build It, Watch It, and Make It. The educator tab also provides a ist of activities to make your planning easier. This site is definitely worth checking out for a wide variety of activities.
Upper grades in engineering and advanced manufacturing classes might enjoy the virtual field trips at TeenDrive 365. These videos, featuring Toyota engineers, look at the artificial intelligence used in automated cars. The videos also cover the science and engineering behind safe driving.
Another virtual field trip, “Manufacturing Your Future,” is for engineering and advanced manufacturing classes. Arconics Advanced Manufacturing plant in Tennessee teaches students how robotics and digital technology impact the future of manufacturing.
Natural Science courses have virtual field trip options too
For teachers with a natural science curriculm, the Nature Conservancy provides free videos and lesson plans for teachers in grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. A few topics I checked out were on Rainforests, Coral Reefs, and Coastal Ecosystems.
For more nature ideas, each day at 2 p.m., National Geographic is providing live video events to support online learning. You can discover the topics for each day on their website.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History virtual tours. offers a virtual field trip of their museum. This tour allows students to take self-guided tours of select exhibits. In addition, the educator tab takes you to useful resources to help with planning.
Teachers looking for topics in Earth Science, Life Science, Paleontology, and Social Studies can find them at Science How. This site has 52 webcast archives, providing some interesting virtual learning options.
Zoo webcams let you watch animals live
A spring trip to the zoo has become a tradition for many schools. However, thanks to virtual field trips, you don’t have to miss out on your zoo visit. You can visit virtually.
One option is the Cincinnati Zoo which provides a Home Safari Facebook Live each day at 3 p.m. The safaris are also posted later at the Cincinnati Zoo website and their Youtube channel.
Other zoos also give students the option to take tours or view webcams. You can watch pandas through the Atlanta Zoo webcam or penguins on the Kansas City Zoo. Another live stream you can watch is the otter exhibit at California Monterray Bay Zoo.
Thanks to the various live webcam exhibits at the Houston Zoo, you will feel like you are there. They show live webcams of gorillas, elephants, giraffes, and even leaf cutter ants, among others.
Explore marine life virtually
You can also take virtual field trips to many U.S. aquariums. The Georgia Aquarium provides webcams of many of their exhibits, including a Beluga whale and sea lions. They also have a gallery with photos and information about many sea creatures.
The National Aquarium entertains students with a self-guided tour of their aquarium. You can also watch live webcams of their exhibits, Jellies Invasion, Blacktip Reef, or Pacific Coral Reef. A 30 minute video tour allows you to visit the Seattle Aquarium.
Another option for marine life information is the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. This site shows short videos (less than 2 minutes) that answer student questions. Why are some animals slimy? What do animals do at night? What do animals eat? Do animals go to the doctor? You can find answers to these questions and more.
Online science lab resources:
Bioman – Games and virtual labs for Biology
Learn Genetics – Multimedia activities and science labs related to biology, genetics, and human health
McGraw-Hill Biology Virtual Labs – Biology labs and dissections
NMSU Virtual Labs – Eight virtual labs for biology and chemistry
PhET Interactive Simulations – Simulations for physics, chemistry, earth science, and biology
Molecular Workbench – Simulations for physics, chemistry, and biology.
ChemCollective – Chemistry labs, simulations, and tutorials
General Chemistry – Interactive chemistry simulations
Social Studies virtual field trips take students to the world
Whether you are teaching American history, world history, or geography, virtual field trips let you take your students virtually to the places you are studying.
U.S. History comes to life
Bring U.S. History to life with a virtual tour of George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. See what early colonial life was like through webcams of Colonial Williamsburg, or visit the White House.
Help students learn about immigration with a virtual field trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Mixing historical information with the tour, students get a virtual experience that brings the history to life. Teachers have resources too!
If you are studying World War II and the holocaust, the United States Holocaust Museum has many resources and online exhibitions to enhance your lessons. You could also have students tour Anne Frank’s house to supplement your teaching, even though they will have to virtually hop across the pond.
While you are touring America, you might want to visit some national parks. The National Parks system has several virtual field trips available, including Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon National Park.
With virtual field trips you can travel the world
Take your students on an international virtual tour. Students can take a virtual field trip to Ancient Egypt. Join an archaeology crew and explore Easter Island. Or, perhaps, a virtual tour of the Great Wall of China sound interesting. The website includes a lot of historical information about China as well.
Literally, you have the world at your fingertips with 360 Cities. This cool site boasts the largest collection of photos and videos of cities and landscapes throughout the world. If you’ve never seen The Coliseum in Rome, I recommend you watch fantastic views from here. Virtual tours are also available for famous sites like The Vatican, Buckingham Palace, and the Taj Mahal.
Virtual field trips bring world Art & Music to your students
You may not be able to visit a world class museum in person, but these virtual options allow your students to see some of the most famous artwork in the world. Tours include both U.S. and international museums.
Enjoy a virtual field trip to the most famous art museum in the world, The Louvre in Paris, France. Another great site is Google Arts and Culture. This site has a huge collection of art museums and resources that teachers will find helpful.
And if that isn’t enough art, here is a list of other art museums around the world that your students can visit virtually:
- Musée d’Orsay
- National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
- Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
- MASP, São Paulo
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
- Guggenheim Museum, New York.
For music teachers, what could be more fun than visiting the birthplaces of classical, jazz, rock, and country music? Help your students explore the birthplace of music with a virtual field trip through the history of music. Tour Vienna, Austria; New Orleans, Louisiana; Cleveland, Ohio; and Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia to gain an understanding of the history of each form of music, its artists, and its specific sound.
Enjoy your virtual field trip
Try out some of these virtual field trips to open the world to your students. Just because you and your students may be learning from home, doesn’t mean you are stuck there!
Please share other virtual resources you have found for your classes in the comments.