The American Museum of Natural History recently announced the launch of Virtual Field Trips, a new educational initiative that allows students to engage with Museum exhibits remotely and to complete activities to gain scientific knowledge, with materials to support teachers or parents in standards-aligned instruction.
Virtual Field Trips, which are based on virtual hall tours of Museum galleries on Google Arts and Culture, allow students to locate, view, and explore specific Museum exhibits, complete a core Student Investigation, and engage in extension activities like reading and writing tasks based on Museum exhibits.
The Museum’s Virtual Field Trips are launching with two modules, with more to follow. The first—a field trip to the Museum’s Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals—is designed for students in grades 3-5, who will be able to explore historic habitat dioramas to learn about animal adaptions to their environment. The second offers middle school students in grades 6 through 8 a virtual visit to the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth, and focuses on teaching how plate tectonics can explain Earth formations like ocean basins and continents. Explorations are aligned to Common Core, New York State Science Core Curriculum, and Next Generation Science Standards, and are customizable, allowing teachers to devote one class period to the trip or assign additional activities to extend it over two or more periods.
Virtual Field Trips are part of a comprehensive portfolio of education programming offered by the Museum to support science learning and teaching, including Educator’s Guides for galleries and special exhibitions; OLogy, the Museum’s science website for kids; courses on Khan Academy, and quizzes on the educational platform Kahoot.
In addition, the Museum plays a leadership role in Urban Advantage, a consortium of New York science institutions that work with the New York City Department of Education to support science learning and teaching in more than one half of schools with middle grades across the five boroughs. Through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, the Museum is also home to the Master of Arts in Teaching program, which to date has produced over 100 newly certified Earth science teachers now teaching in high-need schools across New York State. The Museum’s professional development opportunities for teachers include professional learning opportunities from the Gottesman Center, the Seminars on Science online program, courses on the massive online open course platform Coursera, and a range of other resources.
While the Museum has closed its buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has continued to offer educational resources online, with amnh.org/explore
In addition to opportunities to visit virtually through Google Arts and Culture, the Museum is sharing previously recorded guided tours of halls and collections weekly on Facebook. Audiences can also stay connected with the Museum on Instagram at @AMNH, on Twitter at @AMNH, on Facebook at facebook.com/naturalhistory