June 26, 2014

Virtual Field Trips = AMAZING!

My fourth grade team has 4 teachers and this past year we each had around 25-28 kids. We were able to take our kids on one field trip (this one was paid for through a grant) that involved an hour and a half bus ride (both ways), one field trip to the dinosaur museum in town, and then we went bowling at the end of the year. When these were over we didn't have enough to get a bus to go anywhere especially since we live in a remote part of Utah.

Enter virtual field trips.

In February I was approached by my district's amazing instructional technology leader and he asked if I would be interested in doing a virtual field trip. Ummm...yes! So, looking through the Center for Interactive Learning site I selected a trip and away we went. The article below is from our district web site.

Originally posted on SJSD Blog on February 11, 2014

Something fairly amazing happened yesterday at Blanding Elementary School. Mrs. Tina Crofts and her fourth grade students spent time in the morning learning about the water cycle. (At this point you are probably thinking “Well, that sounds like a pretty typical topic for an elementary science class...” but keep reading because what they were learning about isn’t nearly as amazing as where they were learning about it.)
Mrs. Crofts and her class took a field trip as part of their study on the water cycle. So where did they go? They went to the Texas State Aquarium. In Corpus Christi. And they were back before lunch. Really.

So how did they make it to Corpus Christi and back again in time for lunch and with time to learn about the water cycle and see sharks, dolphins, and alligators (oh, my)?
British author Arthur C. Clarke once stated: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Thanks to the district's commitment to providing the best technology it can, having a resident distance education magician, Wesley Hunt, and the power of technology, the students in Mrs. Croft’s class were able to take a live, virtual field trip to the Texas State Aquarium. It was an amazing opportunity for many of the students (and staff present) to see the kinds of marine life that many only get to read about and to ask questions and receive expert insight from the tour guide at the aquarium. A truly amazing experience.
In what may have been the first virtual field trip like this to occur in the district, these fourth grade students were able to see a Sand Tiger Shark swim across the screen from the comfort of their classroom (and learn why--for the most part--it doesn’t eat the other fish in the tank!) along with seeing other aquatic life while having their understanding of the water cycle solidified in a truly engaging way. Below is a short slideshow you can watch (you may want to hit the "full screen" icon) that may give a sense of the magic that was in this classroom yesterday. We hope this is simply the first of such magical moments via virtual field trips to occur in the district…

Keep learning.


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