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.