Virtual field trip brings students to the Bronx Zoo
Jan. 6, 2012—It may have been cold outside this morning, but that did not bother students in Jocelyn Zimmerman's kindergarten class as they toured the Bronx Zoo and learned about some of its more interesting inhabitants. That's because the students, from Lynnwood Elementary School, were able to "visit" the famous landmark as part of a unique virtual field trip from the comfort of the District Office Conference Room using video-teleconferencing.
The Wildlife Conservation Society with the Bronx Zoo connected with the class via the Internet and Ami Dobelle, the distance learning coordinator from the zoo, communicated with students using the conference room's built-in HD projector and video camera. The partnership came about as students in Zimmerman's class were studying non-fiction literature and research, and hoped to complete a project about a zoo.
After learning a bit about the history of the Bronx Zoo, Dobelle presented a program for the students entitled, "Size and Shape." Together, she and the class looked at photos of several different animals from the zoo to analyze their sizes, skin patterns, and shapes. Children identified which animals were larger than others and learned that size is relative and can change depending on the two objects (or in this case, animals) being compared. Children were able to learn, ask questions and participate in activities throughout the 45-minute program just as if they were at the zoo itself.
Perhaps most exciting for the students was the "live demonstration" portion of the field trip where Dobelle invited two of her friends to join her on camera. David, a ball royal python, and Jake, a sugar glider, made special guest appearances to the delight of the children. In addition to learning about their sizes and shapes, the children also learned about David and Jake's habitat, diet, and special characteristics.
"This was an exciting project because it provided an opportunity for our youngest learners to connect their in-class experiences with non-fiction text to real-world expertise," said Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Demian Singleton. "The use of technology expanded the bounds of their learning environment beyond the walls of Lynnwood Elementary School."