Readers’ Survey 2007: Best Virtual Field Trip
Edutopia readers weigh in on their favorites.
The majority of our readers donned their powdered wigs and bonnets to do a virtual minuet in Colonial Williamsburg. The site features a prestigious-sounding URL, history.org, so it had better be good -- and it is. The virtual retro replica offers a lot: representations of practically every facet of life having to do with New World colonization, a site it doesn't take a master mariner to navigate, those old clothes that look so new, and none of the original Williamsburg's stench. Other contenders in this category are the sites for National Geographic, the Louvre, and the Smithsonian Institution.
Gadzooks, gentlefolk! We don't like to be judgmental, and we'll say no discouraging words about ye olde Williamsburg or the other choices mentioned above. But surely there's room for virtual field trips farther afield. They're virtual, after all -- no mosquitoes, no poisonous plants, no hostile locals. So explore! Visit New York's Tenement Museum without sweating over the rusty nails, the lead paint, the asbestos, the crumbling walls, and the tight quarters.
Or try the electronic field trips coming out of Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana. For a small fee per school, this digital magic carpet will let students track migrating sea turtles, go into and around Africa, study the inner workings of Houston's Johnson Space Center (as in, "Houston, we've got a problem"), or speed to the shores of Chesapeake Bay to drop in on the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
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