Virtual field trips bring animals to the classroom

Tuesday, May 31 2011

Students in Liverpool, New York, can't make it to the Rosamund Gifford Zoo in Syracuse every week for their environmental science class. Fortunately, video conferencing technology is able to bring all creatures great and small directly into the classroom.

The zoo and the Liverpool School district have collaborated to create the Rosamund Gifford Zoo Virtual Classroom. This program gives environmental science students a chance to learn about zoology and ecology without spending time and money just to visit animals and zookeepers. The web conferences, which don't cost the school district any money, focus lessons on caring for animals and their habits. Unlike simply watching a movie on the topics, the video conferencing program allows kids to ask questions and see animal behavior in real time.

The Virtual Classroom project arose when budget constraints made physical field trips too costly for the school department. With sponsorship from Time Warner and National Grid, students won't have to miss out on an interesting approach to education and possible career opportunities in the sciences.