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On-Site Staff / Program Design, Development, and Quality

Adventure Learning: Cultural, Nature, and Museum Virtual Expeditions

adventure learning

As our global technology world expands, there are several creative virtual field trips and learning opportunities for students.

“Adventure Learning is an educational approach that provides learners with opportunities to explore real-world issues through authentic learning experiences within a collaborative online learning environment” (Doering, 2005, as cited in GoNorth! Chukotka 2007 Curriculum). If picking one out the many listed below is daunting, try starting with the global trip idea and complementary activity to use in your classroom or youth program.

1) Cultural Expeditions

Google has worked to create Google Expeditions with more than 100 immersive trips that allow teachers to bring a lesson alive to the students and for the students to experience places outside of the textbook. Teachers use their tablets as students us cardboard viewers to see the destination. Google is currently piloting the program and is taking requests from schools for a visit.

If you can’t wait for Google Expeditions to be available to all schools, there are other options for classroom cultural expeditions. One resource is through Online Expeditions, hosted by Global Schools Net. Students will act as detectives, asking questions, searching for facts to prove or disprove their theories, and learn across the curriculum board. To incorporate storytelling and culture, build your own tour with Google Tour Builder or visit others tours from around the world through images, video, and descriptions. For literary connections, visit Google Lit Trips that allow students to travel the journey that characters took in stories and in turn, connect students to the wider world around them.

Global Trip Idea: A trip to a Manchu Picchu. If your school isn’t on Google’s pilot program list, you can work toward planning a Google trip for the future. In the meantime, you can use these sites to visit Manchu Picchu: Panoramas of the World, You Visit, and the Seven Wonders of the World. These sites offer students the chance to see this wonder in 3D 360° panoramas and 3D 360° videos.

Complementary Activity: EDSITEment, a part of the National Endowment for the Humanities has a four-part lesson about the Inca culture geared toward 3rd – 5th grade students that could be used for Art, Culture, History, and/or Social Studies lessons. Students will have the opportunity to explore maps, discuss communication issues, and discover geography of the area, all while learning about the Inca culture.

2) Nature Expeditions

How about exploring nature and ecosystems while virtually going around the world? Here are the virtual trips available through Nature Works Everywhere: Gardens as Models for Natural Systems, The Deserts and Grasslands of Africa, Wild Biomes, Coral Reefs of Palau. Choose the Resource Tab and then Filter By Virtual Field Trips. Download a Teacher’s Guide that includes discussion questions for students to use before, during, and after the trip and additional activities and resources for after the trip. A new virtual field trip to China’s Great Forest will be released on December 4.

Another great virtual trip is to the Finnish Forest, hosted by the Biofore UPM Company. Through sight and sounds in the forest, students will learn about wildlife, humans, machines, and plant life. This trip would complement learning around sustainability, forestry and global business practices, and renewable materials.

Global Trip Idea: The Coral Reefs of Palau, remote islands in the Pacific Ocean. Take students underwater while they learn about ecosystems, organisms, and how coral reefs provide nutrient and medicine to species and humans.

Complementary Activity: The Need is Mutual. This lesson plan is designed for 6th-8th grade students and will focus on the topic of biological interactions. Visit this link for a short follow up video and the downloadable lesson plan link on the right side of the page.

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3) Museums Expeditions

There are many resources online for trips to a variety of museums. Educators can plan for a museum visit once a month or visit four museums during one virtual trip – that is the beauty of going virtual – no travel time! The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History invites guest to travel through the exhibits and suggests hotspots where the zoom feature allows a very close view of an exhibit. The Louvre features tours of exhibit rooms and galleries.

Once you are virtually in the museum, students can click on different art and exhibits for detailed information. The Field Museum brings science to life through live video broadcasts with a museum staff member and supplemental resources for the class. The Google Cultural Institute has a collection of exhibits from museums and collections from around the globe. Educators can choose which galleries to highlight for ease and preparation and add them to their own gallery.

Global Trip Idea: Take a trip to Egypt by visiting the second floor of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Have students explore the exhibit in detail and make observations about what they see and learn. Next, head over Eternal Egypt, which has a great collection of art, history, people, places, myths, and religions that can be explored through technologies such as, animations, virtual environments, and remote cameras. Take a guided tour or chose one of the many selections such as watching an animation of pyramid construction and then stopping over to Qait Bay through a webcam.

Complementary Activity: For 6th grade and older, this Egyptian Cartouches art activity will allow students to experiment creatively with hieroglyphics.

There are a couple of other virtual trip resources worth noting:
  • GoNorth! Adventure Learning hosts Polar Husky, a K-12 grade exemplary curriculum and online technology to virtually take students to the Arctic and learn about culture, life, natural and social science in the Arctic.
  • Global Trek puts together online travel trips for students and they record their findings in journals as they explore.
  • Skype in the Classroom allows students to take virtual field trips, bring experts into the classroom, and connect with travelers, fellow educators, and authors. The Around the World with 80 Schools and Learn NC blogs give a great overview of using Skype in the classroom for virtual, global learning.
  • In Google Earth Moon view, educators can show students where moon mission landing sites have been, see spacecraft in 3D mode, and more. NASA has developed an interactive multimedia platform for education that showcase areas on Earth that have been identified as analog sites to regions on Mars. For exploration of the Solar System, be sure to visit NOVA’s interactive database.

Don’t let budget and classroom walls stop the adventure and learning that can take place through a virtual field trip, with options that span the globe. Leave a comment on our Facebook or Twitter page about where you have taken your classroom or youth program or where you hope to take them!

For breakfast, I had a bowl of cereal, yogurt, and an iced coffee.  

Author Profile: @kristinstayer

Photo credit: Photo Pin 

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