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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

7 Good Virtual Tours for Students

You might not be able to take your students on field trips to all of the places that they learn about in your classroom, but thanks to the web you can take them on virtual trips to many neat places. Here are some of the virtual tours that I've explored over the years.

It seems like every week Google adds more Street View imagery to Google Maps. Through Street View students can take tours inside the White House, visit research stations in Antarctica, virtually hike the Grand Canyon, or go under water to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Some of these places are featured in the Google World Wonders Project.


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The Google Art Project uses Street View technology to take you inside dozens of famous museums. An extension of this is Hangout Quest on Google+. Hangout Quest is a game that allows you to go on a virtual scavenger hunt inside the Palace of Versailles. The object of the scavenger hunt is to find artwork and other objects in the palace. If you invite others to your Hangout you can compete against them in a race to find the objects first. Hangout Quest uses the Street View imagery of Google Maps to bring you inside the Palace of Versailles. Another cool piece of technology added to Hangout Quest is facial tracking. The facial tracking technology allows you to move around in the Palace of Versailles by just moving your head instead of clicking around with your mouse.

You might not be able to take your students on a field trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, but you can take them on a nice virtual tour of the museum. The museum's virtual tours are 3D panoramas of the rooms of the museum. As you go through each room you can click on small camera icons to get a closer look at various museum artifacts.

History Buff is a neat website that teachers of US History should spend some time exploring. One of the best features of History Buff is a set of fifteen narrated panoramic tours of interesting and significant historic sites. Some of the panoramas you will find in the collection include Davy Crockett's childhood home, Appomattox Courthouse, Thomas Edison's birthplace, and Valley Forge.

The Vatican Museums website hosts a fairly detailed virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel. The tour allows visitors to zoom in on small areas and details of the interior of the Sistine Chapel. Visitors on the virtual tour can turn 360 degrees to view the interior of the Sistine Chapel from various angles. In addition to the tour of the Sistine Chapel the Vatican Museums host virtual tours of five other places and exhibits. Those tours are the Gregorian Egyptian Museum, the Gregorian Etruscan Museum, Raphael's Rooms, Pinacoteca, and the Ethnological Missionary Museum.

The Virtual JFK Museum Tour takes you to view exhibits and artifacts in the museum. The tour is narrated and in some cases you hear Kennedy's voice. The tour is divided into major themes and events of Kennedy's presidency including his campaign, the Peace Corps, and the Space Race. The tour also includes some information about Bobby Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Darwin, A Naturalist's Voyage is an outstanding virtual tour of Charles Darwin's nearly five year journey on the Beagle. Darwin, A Naturalist's Voyage has fourteen segments chronicling Darwin's voyage from start to finish. Throughout the tour viewers will see sketches from the journey, hear readings from Darwin's journals, and learn about the journey as a whole. The virtual tour is not limited to just Darwin's work as a naturalist. Darwin, A Naturalist's Voyage explores social issues of the time such as slavery.

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