Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More Inexpensive Ways to Enrich the Science Classroom

In my last few blogs I strayed away from my original question (How to create a effective science classroom on a low budget?) because I was finding really interesting information that I really wanted to explore. In today's blog, I decided to get back to my original question by talking about virtual tours.

In class, we talked about the limitations of field trips: high cost, not enough time, not all children may have permission, etc. With virual tours/field trips every students can participate every time. Virtual tours/field trips also open up a wide range of possibilities for field trips that otherwise aren't available through the regular field trips. Students are able to "travel" virtually anywhere in the world and tour places and get that "acctually there" feeling.

I found one website, http://www.virtually-anywhere.com , which uses 360 degree photography and interactive user interface technologies to give the visitor the most power and effective way to "be there". This virtual tour company claims that you can go almost anywhere including: steel plants, yachts, hospitals etc., where the customer can walk the production line, stand on deck, observe the operating room and so much more. (Although this website is geared more toward companies.)

The best website I found for virtual tours/field trips was http://www.theteachersguide.com/virtualtours.html . This website includes many field trips including The American Museum of Natural History, an Ancient Rome Villa, the National Gallery of Art, the Butterfly Conservatory, Holocaust Museum, Sistine Chapel, etc. Some of the tours are simply via photographs and videos, while others are via webcam. This website also offers tons of resources for teachers, such as other technologies and interactive sites. This website is somewhat limited in the number of virtual field trips it offers, but as you can see offers many that students may otherwise never get to visit.

2 comments:

  1. Crystal, your blog was very interesting and enlightening. With today's economy the way that it is, field trips have been put on the backburner. We, as teachers, need to find ways to make the classroom more exciting. I think virtual field trips are a great way to bring these real life experiences to the classroom. I took a look at both of these sites and they are great, especially the second one you mentioned. These places are destinations around the world that our students may never be able to visit, but through these sites we can make it possible. Thanks so much for making me aware of these sites!

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  2. I still feel we have to make fieldwork accessable to our students. A teacher doesn't have to take their students far to get all the benefits of fieldwork. In my clinicals I have gone with on 3 seperate fieldwork experiences. The teachers of grades 5-6 and 6-8 walked their students to Lutz park in Appleton on different occasions, where they talked about erosion and water quality. The students experienced hands on activities drawing different types of erosion witnessed and for the older students testing the Fox River for pH, turbidity, DO, and temperature. On another occasion the older students took the city bus, which isn't very expensive to the local culinary school to learn about nutrition and careers in this field. They had a blast learning. In my mind viewing a tour on a computer doesn't even compare to the quality education these students are receiving from hands on learning experiences. And haven't we learned that for many districts it isn't in their budget to have computers in the classroom?

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