Science is all around us. There are many ways to engage students in real-world learning experiences that cannot be replicated in the traditional classroom setting. These real-world experiences provide a powerful and authentic way for students to form connections and make science relevant to their own lives and learning. To dive deeper into virtual field trips, check out the AVID Open Access article, Leverage Virtual Field Trips to Engage Students in Authentic Learning Experiences, as well as the Tech Talk For Teachers podcast episode, Leveraging Virtual Field Trips to Engage Students in Authentic Learning.
Science is also all around us in the form of code. As our digital world continues to grow, so too does the need for computer scientists, programmers, engineers, and other related professions. Computer science has become a fundamental 21st century literacy, and the computational thinking that comes from learning computer science reinforces skills important across all academic disciplines. To learn more about computational thinking, check out all the articles and resources in the AVID Open Access collection, Demystify Computational Thinking.
The tools on this page focus on science virtual field trips, real-world application opportunities, coding, and computational thinking resources that can be used with students. Nearly all are free, or have components that are free, and are easily accessible on most digital platforms.
Science Real-World Application
- Citizen Science: Visit Shelly Sanchez Terrell’s page on citizen science and find links to many projects.
- NASA Science: Find citizen science projects and activities to make learning authentic.
- PBLWorks: PBLWorks offers many free project ideas, with nearly two dozen of them specifically aligned to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
- SciStarter: An account is not required to use this site, but setting one up can track your contributions and connect you with relevant projects and the wider citizen science community.
- Zooniverse: This site focuses on citizen science and crowdsourcing science. Find citizen science projects and activities to make learning authentic. Users must be 16 or older to register, though registration is not required.
Virtual Field Trips
- Arizona State University Virtual Field Trips: You can find many options from Arizona State University, with topics including the Grand Canyon, dinosaurs, early civilizations, the rainforest, and many more.
- Ditch That Textbook: Explore this list of virtual field trips and integration activities from Matt Miller at Ditch That Textbook.
- The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Museum Resources, E-Learning, and Online Collections: This list comes from the Museum Computer Network (MCN) and includes lists of resources organized into categories, such as portals, virtual tours/online exhibits, history museums, natural science museums, national parks, and more.
- Upgraded Points: Offered here is a list of the 75 best virtual museum tours from around the world. Each museum on the list includes the date it was opened, a brief overview, and a link to the site.
- Virtual Field Trip Apps and Websites from Common Sense Education: This trusted source highlights its top 30 virtual field trip apps and websites. Each site includes a brief summary, review, and link.
- WeAreTeachers: This site provides a list of 31 amazing educational virtual field trips.
Coding and Computational Thinking Resources
- AppInventor.org: This free application creation site provides resources for teachers and students to create their own apps.
- Blender: This free and open-source software states that its mission is to “get the world’s best 3D CG technology in the hands of artists as free/open source software.” The software requires a local installation and is available for multiple platforms. Features are included for rendering, modeling, sculpting, animating, creating simulations, video editing, and more. For an introduction, watch this short overview video.
- Code.org: This free coding site is designed to help students learn to code. Code.org includes many block coding projects in multiple areas, including the Artist Project, Sprite Lab, App Lab, and Game Lab. Click the “Teach” menu to explore ways to use this site in your classroom. If you are looking for quick projects, check out the Hour of Code section.
- Code for Life: This free resource provides lessons and coding games to teach new coders the basic principles of computer science.
- codeSpark: This is a great choice for introducing coding to young learners in a fun, engaging way. It encourages problem-solving and creativity while boosting student confidence. This product is free for North American teachers and students.
- Google CS First: This site contains free computer science curriculum for Scratch that can be used in the classroom or with clubs.
- Microsoft MakeCode: This free online coding platform for students in grades 3–12 provides a platform for students to code devices, create games, or even create mod Minecraft.
- Scratch (Tips): This free product uses block-based coding to introduce students to computer science. It’s the world’s largest free coding community for kids. Students can create digital stories, games, and animations. Scratch is available in over 70 languages, and ScratchJr is available for younger learners (ages 5–7).
- Scratch Encore: This free grades 4–6 curriculum for Scratch is grounded in equity.
- Unreal Engine: Use this advanced tool to create interactive 3D content. It’s perfect for creating 3D games, video for film, architecture, simulations, and more. This sophisticated and professional tool is available for free download. Learn more about Unreal Engine for educators.