Virtual field trips – no permission slips needed.


AIden Deming

Giraffes, rhinos, and more animals can be viewed live at the African Plains habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Anthony Winslow, Editor-in-Chief

While people under lockdown are staying at home until it’s okay to return to their regularly scheduled social lives, people have found ways to escape the COVID-19 reality with new virtual experiences from the comfort of their own homes. While advisory notices to “stay home” grow daily, and parents and teachers look for enrichment opportunities online, virtual tours and field trips are becoming popular. It’s a fun and enriching way to way to see and learn new things when people can’t get out of the house.

Ricardo Almazan and his mother have been embarking on virtual field trips together to numerous places around the world, his mother explained: “Even though we are in quarantine we still want to feel like we are experiencing something new in our repetitive daily routine.” Don Lugo teachers, with young ones at home, have also been utilizing different sites to continue activities at home. Leadership teachers, Mrs. Rigo-Witt is currently continuing spirit dress-up days at home, “I have themed the days with different activities we haven’t done going online to check sea life worked with my Hawaii day.” English teacher, Mrs. Deming says, “I love the giraffe cam at the San Diego Safari Park. They are usually out during all times of the day, so my kids and I check in on them often. It’s just fun.”

The feeling of being outside and looking at new things can make being stuck inside a lot more fun. “Virtual field trips are the next best thing to getting out of the house. Kids can see the world, learn a thing or two, and have fun doing it,” said Rebecca Lugo, an 18-year veteran teacher from New York. Many virtual field trips are offered on lots of different sites online.

The Seattle Aquarium has a 30-min tour video, while the Atlanta Zoo has live webcams of animal enclosures. San Diego Zoo has 11 different animal enclosure webcams. Yellowstone National Park has virtual reality touring for some of the main attractions around the park. Museums all over the country like have online experiences include the Museum of Modern Art, The Getty, and The Smithsonian. Feeling historical? Check out George Washington’s Mt. Vernon, the family home of Anne Frank, or Frederick Douglas’s house.

For people not interested in a ecology, animals, or cultural or historical museums, what about a tour of NASA’s International Space Station? What about visiting Mars? The Land on Mars encounter lets visitors see photos of the real Mars surface and learn about the Mars Rover?

Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams makes the joke that “no passports are needed” as she takes visitors to the Russian segment of the space station, “which includes Zarya, the first segment of the station launched in 1998, and Zvezda, the central command post. She also takes a look at the Poisk and Rassvet modules where Soyuz spacecraft are docked. Harmony, Tranquility, Unity,” according to NASA’s website.
Lists and links continue to be shared on popular group pages like Chino Connects on Facebook and among other social networking groups of parents and teachers online. As more and more people look for an escape and educational opportunities for themselves, their children, and students, more and more lists continue to compound. An easy Google search can help people locate virtual tours. The internet is full of lists of the best places or coolest virtual tours online, and as these popular places continue to remain closed, they’ll be forced to find some sort of virtual experience for visitors.
Most museum websites are sharing their COVID-19 concerns with the public on their websites,  LACMA’s website says, “Though we had been hoping to keep our galleries open so that our visitors may look to art for inspiration and solace in these uncertain times, we believe that closure is the best way for us to support public health officials in their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19”. While museums like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) have closed due the coronavirus, more and more museums, zoo’s, and historical locations and landmarks will have to find a way to keep people interested in wanting to visit while they aren’t able to charge for tickets.
The internet is full of virtual tours ranging from arts and culture to world museums and famous landmarks. Field trip seekers can leave the country and visit the Great Wall of China or embark on an international space station via NASA–how cool is that? I think the only thing stopping a kid, a parent, or a teacher from venturing out during a “stay home” order is their imagination.