Virtual Winter Field Trips
Originally published in TEACH Magazine, January/February 2021 Issue
Remote learning has reinvented the concept of traditional field trips. These days, virtual field trips can be an exciting change up from the “new normal” of the virtual classroom, and are a great way to keep learners engaged. Check out some of the coldest places on Earth with these winter-themed virtual field trips—no survival gear required!
Google Maps Treks
While Google Earth and Maps can be great ways for students to travel the world from the comfort of their own homes, the newly-developed Google Maps Treks platform offers a more immersive experience. Each “trek” contains a series of interactive modules—from 360° panoramic views to audio and video tours—that are designed to tell a story about each location. Students can learn about the Canadian north by exploring places such as Churchill, MB and Iqaluit, NU. Or they can climb mountains like Everest in Nepal and Mont Blanc in France.
This YouTube channel lets students view fun science activities that can be done in the cold, while they stay warm and dry inside. It’s run by a Minnesota high school principal and his family, and features plenty of cold weather science experiments and how-to videos. Students can learn how to make ice lantern luminaries, maple candy in the snow, watch bubbles freeze outside, and plenty more.
These virtual field trips are a fun way to teach students about Alaska’s marine ecosystems. Follow along with Alaska SeaLife researchers as they travel to the Bering Sea, study polar seals in Antarctica, watch walrus at Icy Cape, and more! Each field trip also includes lesson plans for grades 5-8.
Royal Botanical Gardens
Canada’s Royal Botanical Gardens is offering virtual programs to help students explore topics of biodiversity, conservation, and the environment—no matter where they are. “Insects in Winter” uses specimens and an experiment to show students in grades 3-8 how insects survive the winter. “Winter Tree ID” teaches grade 7-12 students how to use buds, twigs, and bark to identify common plants. Both programs are available until March.
These free resources from Polar Bears International are a great way to transport students to the world of the polar bear. The site provides PowerPoint presentations, fact sheets, lesson plans, and activities across all grade levels. It also includes short YouTube clips designed to teach students about polar bear adaptations, environments, and extinction rates. Longer videos include a journey to the arctic through the eyes of a polar bear and a 40-minute video experience of polar bears on the tundra.