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Over the past few years, virtual field trips have proven themselves to be a game-changer. Not only do they fill in for real field trips when our current reality prevents them; they also open doors to places that would have been inaccessible even in normal times.
(Note: For anyone who needs it, YouTube offers a closed captioning option. Just click the CC button at the bottom right hand corner.)
1. The Zoo
There are so many amazing online options when it comes to zoos that we couldn’t narrow it down to just one. Most zoos have live webcams in some of their most popular exhibits, such as the KC Zoo Polar Bear Cam and the Giant Panda Cam at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. However, some zoos offer a more in-depth look. You’ll definitely want to check out the San Diego Zoo. Their site for kids includes behind-the-scenes videos and stories, as well as a variety of printable activities and online games. Check out our full list of virtual zoo goodness.
2. The Aquarium
It’s a similar story with aquariums. You have your pick of live webcams, but our favorites are the Georgia Aquarium’s Ocean Voyager webcam (wait for the whale shark!) and the “jellycam” at Monterey Bay Aquarium (so soothing). You can get a more traditional, “self-guided” virtual tour of the National Aquarium, whereas the Seattle Aquarium has a 30-minute video tour. Want more under the sea fun? Here’s our ultimate list.
3. The Farm
The classic preschool field trip goes online! You can have your pick of dairy farm field trips, but we like this one from the Dairy Alliance and this one from Stonyfield Organic. Farm Fresh 360 allows you to immerse yourself in Canadian farm and food tours—from raising pigs to making milk and cheese. We’re also loving these virtual egg farm field trips from the American Egg Board.
4. An Art Museum
We found 20 art museums with virtual tours, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s #MetKids and its awesome Where’s Waldo? set-up. And you can’t miss the world-famous Louvre in Paris (no passport needed!). Check out the current virtual tours: Traveling Materials and Objects, the Advent of the Artist, the Body in Movement, and Founding Myths: From Hercules to Darth Vader!
5. A National Park
From webcams at Hawaii volcanoes to a virtual run by along the rim of the Grand Canyon, you have tons of options here. Our top pick would have to be Yellowstone. The interactive maps are a great way to see the Mammoth Hot Springs and Mud Volcano, but we think kids will be psyched about the Old Faithful Geyser live-stream and the opportunity to make their own predictions for its next eruption. Check out everything the National Park Service has to offer virtually.
6. A Planetarium
Through Stellarium Web, kids can explore over 60,000 stars, locate planets, and watch sunrises and solar eclipses. If you enter your location, you can see all the constellations that are visible in the night sky in your corner of the world.
Take your students on a virtual field trip of a recycling center and a modern landfill. Plus, there’s a full-on curriculum that includes lesson plans, take-home handouts, and more.
Nickelodeon teamed up with two astronauts on the International Space Station to demonstrate how slime reacts to microgravity and had kids reproduce those same demonstrations back here on Earth. It makes for an amazing 15-minute virtual field trip.
9. Nature Lab
The Nature Conservancy has a brand new virtual field trip entitled “You’re the scientist! Citizen Science, Frogs & Cicadas”. Check out their full library of videos on topics like climate change and water security.
Discovery Education hosts a variety of virtual events—each with a companion guide with hands-on learning activities. Current offerings include Making a New Life: The Courage of a Refugee and The Future is Now (architectural and engineering innovations). Stay tuned for their upcoming civics virtual field trip: The American Ideal.
11. The Great Lakes
This virtual field trip from Great Lakes Now has three components: coastal wetlands, algae, and lake sturgeon. Each video is a quick five minutes.
“Walk” through all three floors of the Boston Children’s Museum on this virtual tour. Direct your kids to fun exhibits like Explore-a-Saurus and the Japanese House.
Kids can learn about the most recent Census and how census data is collected and used. This virtual field trip also features interviews with subject matter experts and an interactive challenge.
Houston, we have a virtual field trip. Three, actually. All with companion educator guides. The star of the show is the behind-the-scenes tour of the Johnson Space Center.
Boise State put together this fully interactive virtual field trip with text, photos, audio, and video. The four featured music locations are: Vienna, Austria; New Orleans, Louisiana; Cleveland, Ohio; and Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia.
This living history museum provides a look into life in an early American community. The website offers five different webcams featuring areas such as the tavern and the armory.
18. Mount Vernon
This virtual experience of George Washington’s home is incredibly well done. Enter the different buildings (from the opulent mansion to the chilling slave quarters) and click on different items for video and text explanations.
19. Mount Rushmore
This virtual tour comes with a real tour guide! Blaine Kortemeyer is the Assistant Chief of Interpretation and Education, who lends his expertise on the building of this national monument. The 3D Explorer is also an excellent tool.
Take a visit to the National WWII Museum for “a cross-country virtual expedition to discover the science, sites, and stories of the creation of the atomic bomb.” Don’t forget to download the classroom guide!
21. The White House
For a look inside the iconic building, check out this 8-minute 360° tour of some of the most historic rooms of the People’s House, from the Situation Room to the Oval Office. Your hosts? Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
22. The Smithsonian
The National Museum of Natural History’s virtual experiences are self-guided, room-by-room tours of permanent, current, and past exhibits. Make sure to send kids to the second floor Bone Hall so they can take a look at all different kinds of skeletons.
A collaboration with over 1200 leading museums and archives, Google Arts & Culture is an incredible storehouse of monumental works of art. We recommend the Street View and Play sections.
24. 360 Cities
Boasting the world’s largest collection of 360° images videos, 360 Cities provides kids with the opportunity to see stunning panoramas across the globe, including their video of the ice floe on the Vistula River in Poland.
It’s the official residence of the Queen of England, and boy, is it opulent! Get a peek inside the gorgeous Grand Staircase, White Drawing Room, Throne Room, and Blue Drawing Room.
See one of the wonders of the world with this amazing, thousands-year-old fortification system known the world over. This virtual tour has four scenes available (you have to pay to get access to all 14). The birds-eye view of Mutianyu pass is a highlight.
27. Easter Island
Most of us recognize the giant stone statues of Easter Island, but what’s the story behind them? Nova’s online adventure “Secrets of Easter Island” delves into the mystery with a virtual tour.
28. Son Doong Cave
National Geographic lets you explore the world’s largest cave, located in Vietnam. Use the interactive map to enjoy the fully immersive experience (sound on!).
29. Ancient Egypt
You don’t need a time machine! Discovering Ancient Egypt has a ton of free resources, but it’s the interactive pyramid map and 3D temple reconstructions that really give it a field trip feel.
Virtually visit Turn Back the Clock, a museum exhibit that ran for two years at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. Through compelling personal stories, innovative interactive media, and pop culture artifacts, the exhibit takes guests through seven decades of history—from the dawn of the nuclear age to significant policy questions our leaders face today.
No, really! You can absolutely “go” to the red planet. With Access Mars, you can see the actual surface of Mars, recorded by NASA’s Curiosity rover. Trust us—don’t skip the intro. And if your kids liked that, check out this 4K tour of the moon.
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