Various Programs Discovered Ways to Still Allow Students to Attend Virtual Field Trips

Michelle Zhou, Staff Writer

With a book bag in one hand and a lunch box in the other, students quickly fill up the seats of the yellow school bus. Instead of excitedly arriving at a destination filled with new discoveries and wonders, students face the reality of canceled expeditions, confined to their homes learning virtually.  

With the strange outcome of this year, elementary students are missing out on arguably one of the most exciting parts of elementary school: field trips. Unfortunately, this year, they have been canceled. However, various programs found ways for students to virtually attend a field trip while following COVID-19 safety precautions.

Virtual trips are able to recreate similar live interactions. Although virtual trips are a good replacement, not all students feel the same enthusiasm as they do for in-person trips with all their classmates. “My field trip last year was fun because I could talk with people in person. I would like to go on a virtual field trip but it wouldn’t be the same,” first-grader Rachel Gutu said. 

At Del Rey Elementary school, students were able to experience a virtual field trip over Zoom with the Miramonte Drama Club. “It was great to see other students in our Zoom classroom…We could hear every part and my students had a great view of the performance,” first-grade teacher Elisa Carpenter said. 

Although field trips are going virtual this year, the experience will be similar to in-person field trips. Carpenter’s class is planning to virtually learn about a dairy farm in Iowa. “This is very different than in a typical year where we would visit a farm in person. We will miss out on hands-on learning and experiencing all aspects of the farm but I’m glad that we will still be able to meet the farmer live and ask our questions,” Carpenter said. 

With over six million elementary students across the U.S. utilizing distance learning, field trips had to be canceled, but most classrooms have found a way to replace them. Programs including National Geographic are able to stimulate most of the live interactions that students expect from a normal field trip. “This year especially has been very challenging for young people. We want to keep them positive and inspired about the future,” Vice President of Public Experiences for the National Geographic Society Kathryn Keane said in a statement to NBC. Using their devices, students can also explore different places without needing to travel far. National Geographic has pre-recorded videos and live virtual tours. Other programs including AT&T Virtual Field Trip offer interactive kits for students and downloadable materials for teachers.

When visiting in-person, students are able to interact and get involved with exhibits. However, virtual field trips can not replicate the same in-person experience. “I loved going on field trips when I was young and seeing all the animals were so cool and the experience wouldn’t be the same virtually. In an in-person field trip, you can actually interact with all the things around you but you can’t really do that online,” sophomore Phoenix Dennis said