Explore the World From Your Home or Classroom With These 7 Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Tours, Virtual Reality, and Live-Streaming Events

Students using virtual reality goggles
Students using virtual reality goggles. izusek / Getty Images

Today there are more ways than ever to see the world from the comfort of your classroom. Options vary from live-streaming explorations, to websites that allow you to explore a location via videos and 360° photos, to full-on virtual reality experiences.

Virtual Field Trips

Your classroom may be hundreds of miles away from the White House or the International Space Station, but thanks to these high quality virtual tours that make good use of voiceovers, text, videos, and related activities, students can get a real sense of what it's like to visit. 

The White House: A virtual visit to the White House features a tour of the Eisenhower Executive Office as well as a look at the art of the ground floor and the state floor.

Visitors can also explore the White House grounds, view the presidential portraits that hang in the White House, and investigate the dinnerware that has been used during various presidential administrations.

The International Space Station: Thanks to NASA’s video tours, viewers can get a guided tour of the International Space Station with Commander Suni Williams.

In addition to learning about the space station itself, visitors will learn how astronauts exercise to prevent the loss of bone density and muscle mass, how they get rid of their trash, and how they wash their hair and brush their teeth in zero gravity.

The Statue of Liberty: If you can’t visit the Statue of Liberty in person, this virtual tour is the next best thing. With 360° panoramic photos, along with videos and text, you control the field trip experience. Before beginning, read through the icon descriptions so that you can take full advantage of all the extras that are available.

Virtual Reality Field Trips

With new and increasingly affordable technology, it's easy to find online field trips that offer a complete virtual reality experience. Explorers can purchase cardboard virtual reality goggles for less than $10 each, giving users an experience almost as good as actually visiting the location. There's no need to manipulate a mouse or click a page to navigate. Even an inexpensive pair of goggles provides a life-like experience allowing visitors to look around the venue just as if they were visiting in person.

Google Expeditions offers one of the best virtual reality field trip experiences. Users download an app available for Android or iOS. You can explore on your own or as a group.

If you choose the group option, someone (usually a parent or teacher), acts as the guide and leads the expedition on a tablet. The guide selects the adventure and walks explorers through, directing them to points of interest.

You can visit historical landmarks and museums, swim in the ocean, or head to Mount Everest. 

Discovery Education: Another high-quality VR field trip option is Discovery Education. For years, the Discovery Channel has provided viewers with educational programming. Now, they offer a phenomenal virtual reality experience for classrooms and parents.

As with Google Expeditions, students can enjoy Discovery’s virtual field trips on desktop or mobile without goggles. The 360° videos are breathtaking. To add the full VR experience, students will need to download the app and use a VR viewer and their mobile device.

Discovery offers live virtual field trip options—viewers just need to register and join the trip at the scheduled time—or explorers can choose from any of the archived trips. There are adventures such as a Kilimanjaro Expedition, a journey to the Museum of Science in Boston, or a visit to Pearl Valley Farm to learn how eggs get from the farm to your table.

Live Virtual Field Trips

Another option for exploring via virtual field trips is to join a live-streaming event. All you need is an internet connection and a device such as a desktop or tablet. The advantage of the live events is the opportunity to participate in real time by asking questions or participating in polls, but if you miss an event, you can watch a recording of it at your convenience.

Field Trip Zoom is a site that offers such events for classrooms and home schools. There is an annual fee for using the service, but it allows a single classroom or homeschooling family to participate in as many field trips as they’d like during the year. The field trips aren’t virtual tours but educational programs designed for specific grade levels and curriculum standards. Options include visits to Ford’s Theater, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, learning about DNA at the National Law Enforcement Museum, trips to the Space Center in Houston, or the Alaska Sealife Center.

Users can watch pre-recorded events or register for upcoming events and watch live. During live events, students can ask questions by typing in a question and answer tab. Sometimes the field trip partner will set up a poll that allows students to answer in real time.

National Geographic Explorer Classroom: Finally, don’t miss National Geographic’s Explorer Classroom. All you need to join in on these live-streaming field trips is access to YouTube. The first six classrooms to register get to interact live with the field trip guide, but everyone can ask questions using Twitter and #ExplorerClassroom.

Viewers can register and join in live at the scheduled time, or watch archived events on the Explorer Classroom YouTube channel.

The experts leading National Geographic’s virtual field trips include deep sea explorers, archaeologists, conservationists, marine biologists, space architects, and many more.

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Bales, Kris. "Explore the World From Your Home or Classroom With These 7 Virtual Field Trips." ThoughtCo, Feb. 17, 2021, thoughtco.com/virtual-field-trips-4160925. Bales, Kris. (2021, February 17). Explore the World From Your Home or Classroom With These 7 Virtual Field Trips. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/virtual-field-trips-4160925 Bales, Kris. "Explore the World From Your Home or Classroom With These 7 Virtual Field Trips." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/virtual-field-trips-4160925 (accessed March 25, 2023).