Looking for something fun to do on a cold, rainy day? There are some really great destinations you can reach, without leaving your home.
Despite the best efforts of educators, remote learning makes it difficult to provide every lesson as an interactive experience. This is due to a variety of factors, such as students’ schedules and budgets. It would not be possible to take your class to Egypt on Monday morning and explore the solar system later in the day. Or can you? Virtual field trips can take students and educators to places they have never been before, without leaving their home.
The Covid years gave many of us our fist experience with virtual tours. They’re much more educational than simply reading about a subject matter can. They are engaging to kids in a way that reading can’t be.
Even though, as homeschoolers we love educational outings, we shouldn’t forget that our kids (and we) sometimes just want to visit a place that’s fun. Learning will still be happening, even if everyone is enjoying themselves. And these virtual trips are much more memorable.
To find field trips that your tween will love, keep reading. This includes famous theme parks, Harry Potter magic, fun with money, a cool train ride, places for sports and music fans, unique factory tours, and much more.
FUN VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS
Grab your computer and explore these fun places with your kids.
THE MONEY MUSEUM
If your tween is interested in coins, she’ll love these virtual tours of the Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The History of Money, the Money of the Civil War, and the coin collection can all be found online.
You can tour the museum online if you’re unable to visit in person. They’re not just for serious coin collectors. The American Numismatic Association does a great job of teaching kids about coins from throughout the ages. Everyone will enjoy learning more about money from this educational organization. Check it out HERE.
PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has so many virtual field trips available that your football-loving tween could stay busy for a while.
They have updated their curriculum for the 20-21 school year to include videos with supplemental activities. Students can learn more about their favorite team, players, and the history of the sport by reading books about it. The best part is that it includes both STEM applications and career explorations.
Find the Youth Education resources HERE.
HARRY POTTER: A HISTORY OF MAGIC
If your child is a fan of Harry Potter, they will enjoy this collection from the British Library. It brings the wizarding world to life for visitors.
Explore the journey of Harry Potter from idea to conception, take 4 lessons in Muggle Magic, see the early notes and sketches from J. K. Rowling reveals the history behind the magic classes at Hogwarts, as well as many other interesting facts.
There is a downloadable lesson plan available that can be used in conjunction with the online tours.
Any fan of Harry Potter will enjoy visiting these exhibits HERE.
This collections allows your kids to explore the world in a unique way that VR photographers have captured.
If they click on a thumbnail of a location, they will see many great photos of it. There are also videos and virtual tours available in addition to breathtaking panorama photographs.
Tweens can visit places they’ve always wanted to see HERE or find some alternative places they had no idea existed.
UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT
Teens will have a blast riding the famous attractions at Universal Orlando.
Universal Orlando has many rides and attractions that are not only fun, but can teach kids about STEAM concepts. They also offer the opportunity to see behind the scenes of their seasonal offerings and upcoming rides and attractions.
This is a must-see for any thrill-seeking, science-loving teens HERE.
Do you have a dog lover in your house? If she is interested in agriculture, she may be interested in this virtual tour on the Ag Explorer site. “Bark to Bite” is a look at the making of new dog food, from its conception to when your dog first eats it. There’s even a helpful educator guide included.
This text is discussing how tweens can go on virtual field trips to learn about John Deere factories and careers in STEM that involve animals. Check it out HERE.
Despite the fact that most of us will never have the opportunity to see the northern lights in person, technology has made it easy for teens to visit Scandinavia to see them.
This virtual tour starts at the Ice Hotel, then goes to a nearby lake to see some reindeer. after that, you’ll ride on a sled through the arctic wilderness to see the northern lights. This is the ultimate adventure your tween will love.
This is your chance to see Scandinavia’s stunning scenery while learning about this rare phenomenon HERE.
There are lots of interesting things on this website for kids to learn about Ancient Egypt. There is even a fun hieroglyphic typewriter. The Pyramids online journey is designed specifically for middle school students to help them explore the pyramids in more detail.
Not everyone enjoys opera, especially tweens, but it is a significant cultural experience that everyone should try at least once.
This virtual field trip to the Seattle Opera is a great opportunity for your tweens to learn about what an opera is, how to understand it, and proper etiquette for attending a concert. There is also a workshop available where you can create your own aria, coloring pages, and past shows available for viewing.
Children who enjoy watching live performances may be inspired to try opera themselves. Explore HERE.
NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
Teens who enjoy baseball will be happy to take a virtual tour of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The purpose of the visit is to learn how baseball has impacted American history and culture. It divides this virtual field trip up into subject-specific applications. The website provides free lesson plans that can be used by parents with their children.
Baseball can be used to teach kids about history, math, science, the arts, and character development. Find the virtual tour and educational materials HERE.
If you have a kid who loves LEGOs, this video HERE of a LEGO factory in Billund, Denmark, is a must-watch. He’ll love seeing how they make his favorite bricks.
Is LEGOLAND, Florida on your child’s must-see list? He can now visit anytime from the comfort of his home. You can explore some popular attractions and take a virtual ride on their roller coaster HERE.
Children can construct a LEGO frog with the assistance of a LEGO Master Model Builder HERE.
Discovery Education has a wide catalogue of VR. Take a look at it HERE.
Kai XR is another company that provides virtual field trips for children. These trips are designed to be educational and entertaining for kids. Their goal is to use technology to remove obstacles and provide beneficial learning experiences for all students.
How is this all possible? XR (extended reality) technologies include VR, AR, and MR technologies. These technologies give people the ability to enter the metaverse, which is expected to be used as much as the internet in the next few years.
- Virtual Reality (VR) refers to a fully immersive experience. Generally, users wear a headset that blocks their view of the physical world and projects a 360° digital environment around them. A space virtual field trip for elementary students will be most fun in full VR, so students can feel they’ve rocketed out of their classroom and into the cosmos.
- Augmented Reality (AR) denotes a layered experience. Computer-generated images are superimposed on the physical world through a device (like a smartphone). If you’ve spent any time playing Pokemon Go, then you’re already familiar with this technology! Educators may include AR in a virtual field trip for Earth Day by having students use an app that identifies plants while they walk around a local park.
- Mixed Reality (MR) is similar to AR, but differs in that the computer-generated images are not only superimposed on physical reality, but actually interact with it. If you’ve ever used an app to animate art pieces at a museum, you have engaged with MR before. MR provides opportunities for interactive virtual field trips for elementary students.
- The Metaverse is a network where people can access digital, 3-D content. It is not an app, website, or offering controlled by a single company. Instead, it’s similar to the internet; both the metaverse and the internet are platforms that anyone can create content for and anyone can access and enjoy through AR, VR, and XR technologies. The metaverse is a space that can connect people worldwide.
The Benefits of Field Trips
STUDENTS IN THE UNITED STATES have been taking field trips for decades as part of their education. However, they are on the decline. Between 2002 and 2007, student attendance at Cincinnati arts organizations decreased by 30%. schools cut down on field trips because of lack of money and wanting students to do better on standardized tests
In addition to these factors, many museums and cultural institutions reduced their visitor capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of remote learning and other factors, it was difficult for educators to organize field trips in 2020 and 2021.
Although field trips are not as popular as they used to be, they are still an effective teaching tool. One 2013 study found that students who took field trips to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas had a positive impact. They found that field trip attendance increased students’:
- Critical thinking
- Historical empathy
- Interest in art museums
The authors of the study found that especially high increases in the above variables were experienced by students from rural schools and high-poverty schools. There is still value in learning outside of the typical classroom lecture setting.
educators face many barriers when trying to organize this.
Virtual Field Trips Provide an Antidote
Enter: virtual field trips.
With digital experiences, children can be transported around the globe in seconds, which enriches any lesson plan.
As virtual reality continues to become more popular (investors put $10 billion into virtual world start-ups in 2021), educators and students can expect to use this technology for practical applications in the classroom.
Some teachers began to do this in 2020. Sobel and Jhee interviewed a few K-8 educators who were early adopters of XR in the classroom. The educators discussed the advantages and disadvantages of XR. They found that teachers who used VR and AR for virtual field trips shared these experiences with their students:
- Exploring coral reefs and ocean life
- Attending Google expeditions
- Building a virtual water park to learn concepts of area, perimeter, and volume through
Educators used VR as a teaching tool for things other than field trips. Some people worked with students to help them add augmented reality to graphic novels and produce original AR and VR stories.
The teachers were successful because of their innovative lesson plans and virtual field trips. Based on their surveys and interviews, Sobel and Jhee recommend educators interested in bringing XR technology to their classroom do the following:
- Collaborate with other teachers and/or IT specialists
- Check that tethered headsets are compatible with school computer software
- Clean shared headsets between each use
- Set realistic expectations and discuss fantasy vs. reality with students.
Virtual Field Trips Provide Career and Technical Education
Virtual field trips offer increased opportunities for CTE. What does CTE stand for? Career and Technical Education.
CTE is a cornerstone of the American education system. The school emphasizes practicality, teaching students the abilities they need to have successful careers in high-demand fields. A leading CTE curriculum developer has stated that there are 16 distinct career clusters that make up CTE.
These clusters include:
- Architecture and Construction
- Arts, Technology, and Communications
- Business Management and Administration
- Education and Training
- Government and Public Administration
- Health Science
- Hospitality and Tourism
- Human Services
- Information Technology
- Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
- Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics
Even though students may attend field trips in the real world, there are only a limited amount of careers available for them to explore. Career presentations may help to some extent, but having students listen to guests speak all day can make them bored and uninterested.
So, how can children receive valuable CTE while classroom-bound? Virtual reality is one method.
The best virtual field trips can help students learn about different careers and technical fields. Within these immersive experiences, students can see what different careers and workplaces look like and gain more clarity into their future aspirations.