Take Your Kids on a Virtual Field Trip
Seemingly overnight, parents have found themselves in a position of having to homeschool their children. While many schools are providing resources to assist them in this task, there’s a missing piece of the educational puzzle: field trips. The simple joy of cramming into a school bus under the watchful eye of a parental chaperone seems like a distant memory. While travel restrictions are in place throughout much of the nation, kids and their parents can still visit some of the top spots through virtual field trips. Many museums, zoos, aquariums and science centers are going online, meaning your kids can have fun learning without leaving the safety of the house. Following are some of our top picks.
Animal lovers can also get their fill of land-dwelling animals at the San Diego Zoo’s live web cams. You can watch the koalas munch on eucalyptus, African elephants wander across the screen, or rhinos sun themselves on the grass. They also have orangutans, pandas, polar bears, giraffes and tigers.
The California Academy of Sciences also has live web cams. You can explore a coral reef or watch the penguins play. You can also spot animals like seals and sea lions on the high-definition web cam atop a lighthouse on the Farallon Islands, a rugged wildlife refuge off the coast of San Francisco.
Want to watch sea otters frolic and swim in real time? How about bright orange jellyfish float through the blue water? Or perhaps sharks and rays are more your thing? You can see all of the above, plus penguins, fish and other sea animals, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s live web cams.
Though you can’t visit the redwoods or the beach in person, you can visit them online. California State Parks offers a distance learning program with rangers exploring the fossils of Anzo Borrega, the animals of Point Lobos and the giant sequoia of Calaveras Big Trees. Tune in live or watch a pre-recorded session! Although there is no charge to participate, you must register in advance.
Take a trip through some of the most beautiful landscapes of the world through The Nature Conservancy’s Nature Works program. Virtual field trips take you through a coral reef in the Dominican Republic, the rainforests of Borneo, and the grasslands of Africa. Most are narrated by biologists and naturalists, providing expert insight into the unique biodiversity of each location.
Every wanted to visit Yellowstone? How about the Grand Canyon? You can visit some of the nation’s most famous parks virtually. Learn about geysers and hot springs, archaeology and geology. You can also visit 31 National Parks via Google Earth, from Acadia to Zion.
Art & Science
Google has partnered with several large art museums of the world to provide free virtual tours. You can walk up the iconic spiral staircase of the Guggenheim Museum in New York and browse the contemporary galleries or travel through time at the British Museum. The Metropolitan Museum of New York allows you to immerse yourself in 360-degree videos of its most famous spaces, including its armory galleries and neoclassical great hall. You can also admire the Sistine Chapel and other highlights of the Vatican Museums from the comfort of your own home!
If your kid is a space lover, why not take them on a virtual trip to Mars? NASA has an interactive virtual tour where you can explore the red planet along the Mars Curiosity Rover, launched in 2011. You can also visit the International Space Station and view dozens of videos from NASA’s collection.