As the pandemic continues and children are increasingly required to stay home for a week or more, many school and public libraries are sharing a fresh round of digital learning resources with their communities. If you are looking for new recommendations to send families and caregivers during this time, virtual field trips can be a particularly good fit for children to enjoy while they are stuck indoors.
See below for a round-up of virtual field trips that can transport children out of isolation and into engaging learning environments. These resources can be used by children independently or as part of a synchronous remote class or library program. We’ve aimed to include resources on a variety of platforms, knowing that sometimes video sharing sites are blocked on school and library devices. We invite you to share your additional suggestions in the comments!
Visit the American Museum of Natural History in New York City with Caldecott Medal-winning author Brian Selznick. See some of the exhibits that inspired his book Wonderstruck, and hear from field experts who work at the museum. (Scholastic Teacher website)
Explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art through an interactive map that connects children to videos and fun facts about the museum and its treasures. (Metropolitan Museum of Art website)
Experience the exhibits at Boston’s Museum of Science through a variety of short videos featuring experts from the museum. Get a behind-the-scenes tour of their Theater of Electricity, see how they keep animals healthy at the Live Animal Care Center, meet some of their carnivorous plants, and more. (YouTube videos, embedded on the Museum of Science website)
Make a winter sojourn to Yellowstone National Park: Take a virtual tour, enjoy a photo gallery, and experience an audio postcard of the park in winter. Or just keep an eye on the live webcams of Old Faithful and eight other locations around the park. Can you catch a geyser as it erupts? (National Park Service website)
Visit the Great Barrier Reef in Australia! Take a virtual dive through photos, 360-degree images, and video. (Photos: XL Catlin Seaview Survey. Videos: Underwater Earth YouTube channel) You can also learn about the Heron Island Research Station and then take a self-guided virtual tour. (Video: YouTube video, embedded on the Google Arts & Culture website. Virtual tour: The University of Queensland, Australia, powered by YouTour)
“A giant panda, the star attraction at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo. Original image from Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress collection. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.” by Carol M Highsmith is licensed under CC0 1.0
Observe animals at zoos and aquariums around the country: Thanks to live webcams, you can see what’s happening at any given moment at the Bronx Zoo, Georgia Aquarium, Houston Zoo, Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Diego Zoo, and Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. (Video feeds embedded on each institution’s website)
Out of This World
“The Fuel Burner Rig is a test laboratory at NASA Glenn. These samples face 200-mile per hour flames to simulate the temperatures of aircraft engines in flight. Original from NASA . Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.” by NASA is licensed under CC0 1.0
“Curiosity’s Selfie at the ‘Mary Anning’ Location on Mars” by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Blast off to Mars! Explore the surface of Mars, recreated using real data and images from NASA’s Curiosity rover. (Access Mars website, a collaboration between NASA and Google)
We recognize that unfortunately, not every household will have the internet access and other technology necessary to enjoy these virtual field trips. Depending on the needs of your community, you may want to explore the resources in this Access to Technology guide from the ALSC Children and Technology Committee—including apps that do not require WiFi or data plans.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group, II. Reference and User Services.
Karen You-Chuan Wang is a member of the ALSC Children and Technology Committee. She recently earned her Master’s in Library & Information Science and is currently working as a Library Assistant at an independent school in Brooklyn, New York. Prior to transitioning to librarianship, Karen worked for 17 years in the K-12 educational technology field, developing and implementing products and programs for students, families, and educators across the country.