You are sitting at home and wondering, “What can I do today?” Well, here is one possibility – go on a whole bunch of virtual tours of some really cool places! You don’t even have to leave the couch to see what these zoos, aquariums and science centers have to offer! Of course, after you’re done, you might want to go out and do a little exploring of your own. Or, maybe you want to create your own virtual tour and share with friends or family. What do you have in your home or yard that you think you’d like to share? Be creative and have fun!
If you have never visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore, here is your chance. This 360 degree, four-level view of the aquarium has links to a lot information about the animals that live at the aquarium and you get to be your own guide on your journey.
Questions for Reflection: What animals did you recognize? Which of them inspires you to more exploration?
Activity Suggestion: Choose one of the animals that you liked and then do a computer search to see videos and pictures of the animal. Draw or paint a picture of the animal and make it into a card to give to someone.
This museum has several virtual tours – get ready for a whole lot of exploration! You can visit their permanent exhibits which includes the Mammal Hall, Ocean Hall, and Fossils Hall, among others; their current exhibits which includes a butterfly pavilion, among others; and their past exhibits which includes two dinosaur exhibits and a narwhal exhibit. Just like when you visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in person, you will want to have more than one visit to view all these virtual tours.
Questions for Reflection: Which virtual tour interested you the most? Why?
Activity Suggestion: Create a museum type exhibit with items in your own home. What is the theme of your exhibit? How do all the items connect to one another?
Here you can experience the zoo through a series of YouTube videos. You are going to have an incredible time meeting these animals who are living Down Under!
Questions for Reflection: What animals were your favorites? Do you have an animal at home? What information would you share about your own animal if you were making a video?
Activity Suggestion: Create a short animal video with you being the animal keeper. Don’t have a real animal – maybe use a stuffed animal or animal figurine.
If you love dinosaurs, then you must explore a 360 degree tour of the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery at COSI!! (Kids, you might need a little help to get the hang of this in the beginning). While exploring, you can look at all the dinosaur skeletons and learn fun facts about dinosaurs through video links throughout the exhibit. You’ll have a roaring good time!
Questions for Reflection: What did you learn about dinosaurs? Did you learn anything that was new?
Activity Suggestion: Try dinosaur shadow drawing, or use any object if you don’t have a dinosaur.
Do you love dogs, or even like them a little? If so, you might want to take a few virtual tours of this museum. The first of three virtual tours is MUSH! A Tribute to Sled Dogs, the second is Best in Show, and the third is permanent collection of the museum. There is a lot to read in these three virtual tours and some great pictures. A good family activity with your dog!
Questions for Reflection: Which dog breed is your favorite? What do you like about the breed? What do you think it would be like to be an arctic explorer on a dog sled?
Activity Suggestion: Watch Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show videos and then figure out what you and your dog can do together.
Here you can take a virtual tour of Origins: Fossils from the Cradle of Humankind with some activities to try along the way – like a cave squeeze! During this exploration you can get an idea of what it feels like to go into a cave and find fossils. This home tour is especially good for those who get scared in small spaces or in the dark because you can do it your big room with all the lights on!
Questions for Reflection: What did you learn about caves? What did you learn about fossils?
Activity Suggestion: Try the cave squeeze and then think about what it would be like to be inside a cave. Share your thoughts with someone in your family.
On this tour you’ll find dinosaur and mammoth skeletons, live spiders and beetles, and many, many animal fossils. Once you get the hang of how to navigate, you’ll have a grand time discovering all the secrets in this museum. After you take the virtual tour, check out the online exhibits to learn more about all the things you just viewed and visit the at-home science activities to have more fun!
Questions for Reflection: What live animals did you find? What animal skeletons did you discover?
Activity Suggestion: Now that you’ve seen pictures of some animal skeletons, find a picture of a human skeleton. How are the skeletons the same? How are they different?
To really understand science today, it helps to learn who built the foundations of different scientific principles and the tools that were created to further advance our understanding of science. Take the virtual tour and then check out the videos of the historic science instruments. You will learn so much about how scientists of today were able to do the work they do because of work that others did before them.
Questions for Reflection: What do you like best about learning the history of scientific instruments? How do you think machines in your own home developed over time?
Activity Suggestion: Think of a toy or an appliance – what changes could be made to make it even better?
You can tour this aquarium through its variety of webcams and then check out all the other at-home learning experiences that are available. You’ll have a great time seeing the beluga whales, sea otters, sea lions, and much more.
Questions for Reflection: What marine mammals did you discover? What other marine mammals or marine life can you name?
Activity Suggestion: Try drawing a picture of your favorite marine animal!
While this is not exactly a virtual tour, you still get to see pictures of and read about all the animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They have a large variety of land and marine animals from small invertebrates to cute gibbons to huge hippos. The best thing about the Disney animal pages are the three sections in the descriptions – Home Away From Home; Disney Conservation; and You Can Help Too.
Questions for Reflection: What animals appeal to you most? What things could you do to help your favorite animals?
Activity Suggestion: Take a look around your yard or neighborhood. What invertebrates can you find? Record your findings in a journal or on a piece of paper. Now, to attract more invertebrates, watch this video about making an invertebrate hotel and then follow these instructions to make your own invertebrate hotel. What invertebrates used your hotel? Take pictures of them. Post your photos to iNaturalist. Scientists will be able to identify all of those bugs for you!
Now it’s time to let the adventures begin! In each segment, we had activity suggestions. What else could you do? We’d love to hear from you with your fun ideas and creations by posting on social media with #ScienceatHome. Here’s another overall activity suggestion, do some more exploration of the places that are listed for each location. What else is there to see in Orlando, FL or Brussels, Belgium? We, at CuriOdyssey, hope you have fun exploring and creating!