Students love it and can’t wait to see where they go next. “It makes you more aware of what’s happening the world,” said Koster. “It’s a lot better than just seeing pictures and reading about places in a book.”
Classmate Adam McLaughlin agreed. “You get to experience things in real life and talk to people who are really there,” he said. “We can ask questions and have conversations with them.”
The possibilities for virtual field trips are endless. Kellogg said many aquariums, national park, historical places and zoos have educational programs and schedule Skype sessions with classrooms throughout the year. She said the biggest challenge is working with different time zones and actually scheduling time with the busy calendars.
Students are already coming up with ideas of where they want to go next. Mammoth Caves, Hershey Chocolate Factory, Angel Falls in Venezuela, Australia, and Denali National Park in Alaska are just some destinations making the long wish lists.
“Visiting on Skype makes me want to go there for real,” said Raylee Preston.
During the South Carolina Aquarium visit, students learned about sharks and how they live and how pollution is a threat to their existence. Lake Tahoe was another stop on their global field trips. “I learned at Lake Tahoe you used to be able to see 100 feet down in the water and now because of pollution it’s only about half that,” said Noah Seaben.
Isaac Fleischmann said he liked learning about Lake Tahoe and the fish that live in the lake. “I think it would be fun to go fishing there,” he said.
At Joshua Tree they learned about how the unique trees benefit many species of wildlife in the area and some of the amazing and unique facts about the Joshua tree.
Brooklyn Nichols said she didn’t even know the Joshua Tree Park existed before their virtual trip. “I learned a lot about the animals that live there and a lot about the trees.”
Milo McCormick said he liked all the trips they’ve taken so far and hopes there will be many more. “You get to see it in real life not just in a book or on a TV show. We get to ask questions and have a conversation with people who actually work at all the places and know a lot about them.”
Kellogg said she’s been pleased with the response from her students and the amount of knowledge they’ve gained by experiencing different places. “Not everyone has the opportunity to travel and visit many of these places – especially at this age,” said Kellogg.
Students prepare questions before each trip and discover a wealth of knowledge after each adventure. The class even Skyped with another upper elementary classroom in Minnesota to compare similarities and differences in their schools and classes.
“Skype in the classroom is a global community that enables thousands of teachers to inspire the next generation of global citizens by participating in live learning experiences,” said Kellogg. “Students are learning geography skills, diversity, real-world applications of the skills we learn in class, career paths – everything. The world is at their fingertips.”
Next stop – California’s Crystal Cove State to learn about tide pool habitat.