With funding problems and increased liability issues abounding, interactive virtual field trips are the most likely way many students today will experience environments outside their classrooms.
While actual field trips can give students some hands-on experience and a different perspective on their lessons, these trips are limited to nearby destinations and can take entire school day. A virtual field trip has none of these limitations. Students can study almost any site in the world via the Internet and even view live images from webcams. The tours can last half an hour or students can study their target area for most of the day.
Social studies students who are studying World War II will learn about Jews hiding in Nazi Germany. One of the most famous examples of this is the story of Anne Frank. After the story of Anne Frank has been explained, students can take an interactive virtual tour in Anne Frank’s Secret Annex.
The secret annex online experience begins with the bookcase that hid the staircase and entrance into the Frank family hiding place. Students can click on various parts of the screen, and will be taken to the Frank living room, the map where Anne’s father followed the progress of the war and even the red shoes that Anne received as a gift after being in the annex for months. Move within the entire annex to see the family’s environment and learn about their day-to-day lives as well as their eventual fate.
Students of history and geography will enjoy the interactive tours of ancient Egypt created by NOVA on PBS. Web visitors can explore the interior of 11 different sites including the Luxor Temple, the Sphinx and the Colossus of Memnon.
Move around each site with the interactive cameras, and tour the interior of many of them, as well. See the diagrams that show hidden passages and traps set for unwary grave robbers and explore the size of each temple stone as its set on the worn exterior. Look for burial chambers, walls covered in hieroglyphics and even a 4,600-year-old boat, the oldest known planked object in existence.
Forty percent of all Americans can trace their roots back through Ellis Island. Between 1892 and 1954 more than 12 million immigrants passed through the island checkpoints on their way to a new and better life in the United States.
On an interactive tour of Ellis Island online visitors can follow the path of immigrants traveling on the island. They also can view historical films and photographs, hear immigrants’ stories in their own words, see all the parts of the Ellis Island Immigration Station and learn little-known and fascinating details about the process of immigration in the United States during the last century.
Many museums feature world-class websites with online tours that students can attend right from their classroom or home. Here’s a list of museums that feature online collections of exhibits and artifacts that will not only inspire students but are conveniently accessible.