The 22 Ultimate Virtual Field Trips & Tours for StudentsAll Posts
Written by Maria Kampen
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Imagine taking your entire class to see one of the seven wonders of the world up close and personal — and then being back at school before the final bell rings.
The rise of online learning activities during the pandemic accelerated the availability of virtual field trips, tours and experiences for students of all ages. Now there are many interactive virtual tours available to places that would be impossible to reach on a class trip — the pyramids in Egypt, the Louvre museum in Paris or even an African safari.
We put together a list of 22 unforgettable virtual field trips and experiences that will help your students see amazing sights, connect their learning to real-world experiences and expand their horizons.
What is a virtual tour and how does it work?
Virtual tours allow students to explore noteworthy places around the world, from the comfort of their home or the classroom.
Virtual tours give students the opportunity to stop, explore and guide learning at their own pace. While they’re exploring, they can get up close to nature or artifacts that might not otherwise be easily accessible.
Virtual tours can be many different things, including:
- A video
- A live webcam of a zoo or animal habitat
- A 360 degree view of a location you can manipulate
- Pictures enriched with helpful information and diagrams
Technology powering virtual field trips for students
Even ten or fifteen years ago, video tours would have been rare or impossible. Advancements in technology and education have combined to help people learn and explore from anywhere!
- National Geographic creates TV series about nature, history and archaeology
- Food shows like Netflix’s Salt Fat Acid Heat take viewers on food journeys across the world
- Planet Earth, a television series, brings far-flung locations to your living room or classroom
- Discovery Education gives educators access to multimedia resources that supplement classroom learning
- Video conferencing technology like Zoom lets you connect with people and learning experiences around the world
We love being able to sit at home or in the classroom and learn about different foods, cultures and geography. Why not introduce that to your students?
22 Best virtual field trips for students
1. Take a trip to the zoo
Whether it’s live webcams of adorable pandas or behind-the-scenes tours with zookeepers, zoos all over the world offer ways for animal antics to delight and entertain your students.
Some of our favorites include:
- Edinburgh Zoo’s Panda Cam
- Georgia Aquarium’s Beluga Whale Livestream
- The Smithsonian National Zoo’s Naked Mole-rat Cam
- A live feed of African river wildlife in Laikipia County, Kenya
- The San Diego Zoo Live Ape Cam, or any of their other live animal feeds
- Home Safari videos from the Cincinnati Zoo, where zookeepers introduce you to the hundreds of animals that make the zoo their home.
2. Visit The Hidden Worlds of National Parks
From Yosemite to Mesa Verde, explore some of the USA’s most beloved and beautiful national parks with The Hidden World of National Parks.
Supported by Google Arts & Culture, students can use the same technology that powers Street View to explore the national parks at their own pace.
The program also includes guided tours from park rangers, where they share their expertise as you explore. Follow the on-screen prompts and let them guide your adventure!
3. Watch the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otters
Play with the sea otters as they swim around Monterey Bay Aquarium in California! Tune in throughout the day to see them being fed, learn fun facts about otters and watch them play in the water.
4. Swim through Palau coral reefs
Travel to the Pacific Ocean through a virtual adventure and see the Palau coral reefs. Hosted by Nature Lab and the Nature Conservancy, this tour teaches students about the importance of preserving some of the most fragile ecosystems in the world — no wetsuit required.
Take learning to the next level with the Nature Lab’s Teacher’s Guide, which includes discussion questions and related resources to keep learners engaged.
5. Visit the surface of Mars
It took the Perseverance rover about seven months to get to Mars. But thanks to this virtual tour, you and your students can go for a visit in just one afternoon.
Created by Google and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this virtual tour takes you through the history of Mars explorations and turns what might be a far-flung topic into something right at students’ fingertips. They’ll explore the surface of Mars, learn more about the rovers that have studied its surface and understand how Mars exploration fits into the history of space travel.
6. Power up with renewable energy
Powering the Planet from the Nature Conservancy is an interactive lesson that focuses on renewable energy sources. It explains to students how energy around them is necessary for life, and covers how energy can be sourced in a way that’s not harmful to the environment.
All the Nature Conservancy’s programs come with a Teacher Guide, which offers lesson plans and activities relating to the virtual tour.
7. Walk the Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is over 13,000 miles long, so be sure to pack your walking shoes for this trip!
This virtual tour lets students explore key points in the Great Wall of China, plus see the history and amazing view up close.
8. Float around the International Space Station
Did you know that astronauts have continuously inhabited the International Space Station for 20 years? Now your class can join them!
With tours of the different parts of the space station, facts about the layout and assembly, and information about the different astronauts who’ve visited from around the world, students can get an out-of-this-world experience from the comfort of their home or classroom.
Plus, there are plenty of images, videos, graphics and media resources to help you tie topics into your curriculum.
9. Scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is a delicate ecosystem especially vulnerable to the effects of pollution and climate change.
David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef is a tour created in partnership with the Natural History Museum in London that teaches everyone about the beauty and fragility of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.
The Great Barrier Reef is also available on Google Street View through Google Maps as one of the first underwater locations to be mapped.
10. Learn about water and Colombia’s páramo ecosystem
Just outside of Bogotá, Columbia, is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. In this virtual lesson, students will learn about how the water cycle plays a vital role in biodiversity, and get an up-close look at the animals that call the area home.
11. Tour the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
The Smithsonian Institute is the world’s largest museum — so there are plenty of things for students to explore.
With a variety of virtual tours to choose from, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History is full of ways to get students excited about learning. Students can watch narrated tours of different exhibits ranging from history and geography to the research stations in the museum.
Whether students want to walk through the museum on their own or let someone else do the talking, there’s something for every lesson.
12. Get caught up in the American Revolution
History meets the present at the Museum of the American Revolution!
This virtual tour lets students see artifacts, meet museum staff and hear stories of real people who fought for American independence.
It also comes with a Classroom Kit for 2nd to 8th grade that supplements learning and makes it even more meaningful.
13. Trek up Mt. Everest
This 360 degree video from National Geographic lets students explore Mt. Everest along with a group of researchers. Together, they’ll discover what kind of effects climate change has on the mountain, and how we can work to preserve natural landscapes.
Not up for climbing mountains? Take a virtual ride on Expedition Everest, the tallest rollercoaster in any Disney park! But beware — there’s a monster lurking in the dark.
14. Get the right angle with Explore Geometry
Powered by Nearpod, Explore Geometry’s lesson plans connect classroom lessons with architecture in the natural world.
Students can explore the gardens of Versailles to learn about the geometry of a French garden before moving on to the next lesson and putting their skills to practical use.
15. Wander through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
One of the most well-known museums in the world, students can now explore The Met’s vast collections with the Met 360º Project.
Virtual tours help students get a sense of the space, art and collections inside of the museum. Whether they’re interested in the Met Cloisters or the Arms and Armor gallery, students can go at their own pace, accompanied by a soothing soundtrack.
You can also book virtual tours with a museum guide to line up with your lesson plan. Tours are free for NYC public schools and all Title I schools, and $200 USD per class for other schools.
16. Explore history in the British Museum
Another world-class museum, students can explore the British Museum in London using Google Street View, read facts about the artifacts and connect what they see to their history lessons.
Whether it’s the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, Egyptian sculpture or any other historical treasure, there’s something every student will find interesting!
If you want to let someone else do the exploring, there’s also a 46-minute virtual walking tour, where you can skip to the sections that are most relevant to you and your class.
17. Visit the White House
In Washington, D.C. the White House is the symbolic heart of America, and now students can walk the halls for themselves.
Whether they want to take a lap around the Oval Office or wander the building, students can explore this virtual tour from the White House Historical Association. Plus, it comes with class tie-ins like vocabulary lessons and other activities to make the experience even more memorable!
18. Arrive at Ellis Island
Ever wonder what it was like for new immigrants to see the Statue of Liberty and step foot on American soil for the first time?
Now students can experience it for themselves with this virtual tour, a collaboration between Scholastic and the National Park Service. They’ll learn the importance of immigration in the history of the United States and hear real-life stories about the people who came looking for a better life.
After students watch the video, they can click through this interactive map with facts and stories about the people who came through Ellis Island.
19. Explore China's forests
In this online tour, students can explore the natural habitats of pandas in the forests of China. They’ll discover how the panda’s home plays a role in understanding our world, learn about local conservation efforts and see the big-picture view of how these vast forests fit into our understanding of nature and climate change.
Plus, this program also comes with a handy Teacher Guide for you to use in lesson planning!
20. Bundle up in the Arctic tundra
Take a virtual field trip all the way up north to the tundra! Discovery Education’s tundra programs for elementary, middle and high school students cover the natural habitat of polar bears, plus their activities and migration patterns.
This virtual tour comes with instructional activities and classroom tie-ins, so you can be sure students are getting a productive learning experience.
21. Go spelunking in the world's largest cave
Travel through Vietnam’s Son Doong, the world’s largest cave. First explored by researchers in 2009, this cave is up to 200 meters tall in some areas and even has its own jungle inside.
It’s estimated that the total length of the cave system is over 200 kilometers, and with this National Geographic tour students can explore to their heart’s content. High definition pictures and helpful facts mean that not only is this an awe-inspiring trip for students, but it’s also educational!
Because the cave is ecologically sensitive, only a certain number of tourists are allowed to visit each year. This virtual tour is a great way for kids and adults to experience the wonder up close!
22. Browse the Louvre
Take your students on a quick trip to Paris where you can explore the architecture and art of the Louvre without the crowds.
How to incorporate virtual tours into learning activities
From kindergarten to high school, virtual field trips are a great way to get students excited about learning. And if you’re homeschooling, they’re the perfect way to get real-world experience without leaving the house!
To get the most out of the experience, keep these tips in mind:
- Ask students what they’re interested in exploring
- Look for virtual experiences that fit into your lesson plan for maximum impact
- Search for supplementary resources like teacher guides and discussion questions
- Try out the virtual tour first to make sure it’s worth it and to avoid any unpleasant technical glitches
- Use virtual field trips at the beginning of a unit to introduce students to new concepts, or at the end as a reward and wrap-up activity
Be sure to follow up with students and see what they liked the most. Then, harness that excitement for your next lesson or activity!
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