The 5th grade students at Del Rio had spent the past several months immersing themselves in different artists’ lives and styles. Ms. Firmery, their teacher and art mentor, then gave them the exciting opportunity to emulate their favorite artistic style to create an original piece of art that told a story of something important in their lives. These students were not just learning about art, they had become artists. And they wanted to learn more!
While Ms. Firmery would have loved to take a field trip to the Oceanside Museum of Art, it was the end of the year and they had run out of both time and money to make that happen. But that didn’t stop her from planning. Sue Ann Bussey, ELA Project Specialist, offered her assistance. She connected the classroom with the OMA Education Specialist Wendy Abelman, and an idea was born. The class would take a virtual field trip using Google Hangout, allowing students to interact with both the current exhibits and the museum expert.
The result was an interactive art experience that the students would not soon forget. They were able to see the exhibits up close in detail and carry on an hour-long insightful discussion with Ms. Abelman about each artist’s use of materials and message. This was the first time Ms. Abelman had participated in a virtual field trip, and it exceeded her expectations. “These students are amazing!” she said more than once as she responded to the continual stream of questions bubbling up from the excited students on the screen.
After the field trip (sadly) ended, students were asked if they would like to take their parents to the museum this summer. All hands shot into the air – the only students whose hands were not raised were those leaving the area for the break. This was an immersive experience that broke the classroom walls and expanded the students’ classroom learning in a fun and engaging way.
Interested in taking a virtual field trip next year? It’s easy! Just connect with the venue and send a Google Calendar invitation to the person on the other end. Be sure to “Add Conferencing” and select Hangouts. When the time comes to connect, both parties simply click on the link to conferencing on the calendar event, and Google Hangouts will open to connect you virtually as long as you are using a laptop, tablet or phone with a camera.
You can also use Google Hangouts to connect with experts or take trips anywhere in the world. Here are some great resources: Digital Human Library (“check out” an expert), Nepris (connect with industry experts), or check out “The Top 10 Virtual Field Trips for Kids of All Ages.”