Engaging Virtual Field Trips for Middle School Science
This list of virtual field trips for middle school science is full of interesting online tours you can use while teaching science at home.
The field of science continues to grow, and it’s crucial that older kids study a wide variety of science topics.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of over 20 websites you can use as part of your homeschool science lessons. They include topics in the fields of astronomy, biology, chemistry, and physics.
While this isn’t a complete list of all the science field trips available, there’s plenty to keep your tween busy for a while.
Any links in this post may be affiliate links. See my disclosure statement.
Science Virtual Field Trips
One reason I love adding online learning like this to my older kids’ lesson plans is because it gives them the chance to get up close and personal with whatever topics they’re studying.
Too often kids get bored with a subject because they don’t think it’s relevant. They can’t see how it pertains to their lives. These virtual tours give students insight into how the theories they’re studying in school are being used by scientists in real life. They show kids the actual application of science.
They all include interactive tools for your tweens and most have downloadable teacher resources for you as well. Use them in conjunction with your science curriculum or replace a lesson or two with the virtual tours found here.
You’ll quickly see that visiting these sites is a great way to get your kids excited about science.
Help tweens reach for the stars as they study astronomy with these online tours.
Johnson Space Center
Does your tween dream about a career in the space industry? Take this inspiring virtual field trip to the Johnson Space Center to explore the next steps of innovation in space history.
They’ll learn about the developments of projects like the next generation spaceship and the deployment of the Space Launch System, while also learning about the amazing Boeing employees working on these projects and their unique career paths.
NASA Glenn Research Center
Kids of all ages are fascinated by astronauts, rockets, and the exploration of space. Now, they can get an inside look at the research center for NASA.
Tweens can choose from several tours from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to see testing in action. These STEM activities will make it easy to engage your kids in science.
Project Access Mars
The Curiosity Rover traveled 350 million miles and over 8 months to reach Mars. Its primary mission was to determine if life could survive there.
On this website, teens will learn how scientists are using recordings from the rover to make a 3D model of the planet and through webVR technology, they can explore the model themselves.
Take this virtual tour to see what the surface of Mars is like and what scientists have learned about this far away planet.
Is your student an amateur astronomer? Stellarium is an interactive planetarium that will let you see a realistic projection of what is in the night sky from anywhere on Earth.
Use it as part of your science lesson plans or just let your tween explore on their own. They can even make a digital logbook to track what they see in the night sky over time. Download the app so you have it wherever you go.
Explore the natural world with some biology field trips.
Arizona State University Ask A Biologist
These biology virtual tours will take your students on a time travel tour through the seasons, teach them about venomous creatures found in the desert, shrink them down to explore inside a beehive, and more.
Don’t miss the “Body Depot” section that is related to human biology and even genetics.
You’ll also find teacher resources, quizzes, and games that you can use in your homeschool.
FS Nature Live
FSNatureLive wants to bring nature to your classroom. Through online education resources, the USDA Forest Service and Prince William Network bring exciting learning opportunities about bats, climate change, butterflies, and more to everyone around the world.
You can register for live events or view previous adventures. Kids can explore nature and will find a free science journal on this site.
In these days, where the discussion of a coronavirus vaccine is the headline of every news channel, your tween will be very interested in learning about how medicines are developed.
In this Generation Health virtual field trip, your tween will learn about medicine, from idea and conception to the pharmacy shelf. It includes an educator guide to help you teach this important subject.
Great Lakes Now
The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater group of lakes by area on the planet. Great Lakes Now offers three virtual field trips targeted at tweens to explore the importance of coastal wetlands, a deep dive experience, and the danger of algal blooms.
They also offer a newsletter and a very informative blog so you can see what’s going on with the lakes throughout the year.
Lib Guides Virtual Field Trips
There are a variety of tours on this page sponsored by the NYC Department of Education.
Take ecology field trips to the coral reefs and Everglades National Park to learn about Burmese Pythons.
Learn about sustainability through virtual field trips to NYC to visit their water supply system, wastewater treatment center, and trash island.
Finish up by visiting Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park to study wildlife.
National Geographic Son Doong 360
Take a virtual field trip to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam to study the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong.
The name means “mountain river cave” and this one has an amazing rainforest inside it. It was discovered as recently as 2009, and this project seeks to preserve a digital record of the cave before tourism alters its untouched state.
Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma
With so many people living in urban areas, it makes it difficult for tweens to experience near-pristine natural areas where they can learn about plants, animals and important environmental issues of today.
OK360 wants to bring remote areas of Oklahoma to students so they can experience its natural beauty without leaving the comfort of home.
Tweens with an interest in ecology will happily spend hours exploring the shared online nature journal, Project Noah. Users share photos of nature, create wildlife journals, and help each other identify species.
This is a unique opportunity to explore nature in places you may never be able to visit in person.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is located on a remote island in Sweden. It’s a cooperative world effort to preserve as many seed varieties as possible in case of a global crisis.
Through this virtual tour, tweens can learn about this fascinating storage facility built into the side of a mountain and the millions of seeds that are located there.
They’ll understand why we need this important vault and why this is the perfect location for ensuring the preservation of one of the world’s most precious resources.
The Nature Lab
Sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, the Nature Lab offers several virtual tours and lesson plans for students. With them, you can learn about nature throughout the world and the efforts this global organization is taking to protect it.
For example, you can travel from South America to China and learn about the rainforest, coral reefs, and renewable energy, all from the comfort of home.
These amazing virtual tours will help your tween see the world from a broader perspective.
This tour will help your older kids see how chemistry affects their lives.
3M’s Young Scientist Lab
This virtual field trip sponsored by 3M shows how nature inspires the science behind their products. At the Young Scientist Lab, teens will learn how gecko’s feet, goose feathers, spider legs, and fireflies inspire 3M innovations.
Travel to their world headquarters and explore biomimicry and how it’s used to invent products in areas including food science, adhesives, and healthcare.
Spend time learning about energy with these virtual field trips that focus on physics.
Energy101: Electricity Generation
In Energy 101: Electricity Generation, an animated host, “Little Lee Patrick Sullivan,” takes kids from electricity’s source through to the light bulb. He teaches students about thermal power generation, different fuels, the grid, and transmission.
This is an enjoyable way for your family to learn more details about electricity.
JLab Science Education
On this site, you’ll find five virtual field trips from the Department of Energy that give students a peek at what is going in their National Labs.
Young teens can travel down into an atom smasher, learn about 3D imaging of microscopic life, tour a clean room, and see how they use incredibly powerful computers to answer the big questions in life.
NASCAR Hall of Fame
Racing fans will love these activities from NASCAR Hall of Fame. Every week they add new lessons that focus on STE(A)M that will aid students in real-life problem-solving.
The current lesson focuses on types of energy and will show how all branches of science combine in building cars and racing strategy.
Take a online trip to the Idaho National Laboratory, the top nuclear research facility in the country.
The navigating nuclear tour takes students inside a reactor, introduces them to exciting careers in the field of nuclear science, and teaches them about advances in nuclear capabilities and what they mean for the future.
An educator’s guide is also available.
Powering the Planet
During this Powering the Planet/Nature Works Everywhere virtual field trip, middle schoolers will learn about the power we use in our everyday lives and explore the interesting question, “How can we get the energy we need without harming nature?”
See how scientists are harnessing the power of renewable energy resources, such as sunlight and wind.
The Manhattan Project Electronic Field Trip
Sponsored by the World War II Museum, this Electronic Field Trip takes tweens on a virtual expedition across the country to discover the science and stories behind the creation of the Atomic Bomb.
Student reporters go on a journey of how the atomic bomb was produced in complete secrecy. Learn about how its ultimate results ended World War II and changed the world forever.
As you can see, there are plenty of fun and interesting virtual field trips you can use in your middle school science lessons. Put the textbook aside for a bit and check some of these out instead.
Resources for Science Virtual Tours
Along with these virtual field trips, add in some hands-on projects like these to help your tweens master various science topics.
- Teach kids more about electricity with the help of a circuit board engineering kit.
- Dissect an owl pellet together to learn more about owls and the food chain.
- This STEM box will help your kids explore the solar system.
- Have fun with these chemistry experiments that you can easily do at home.
Additional Online Trips for Tweens
These are just some of the virtual field trips we’ve taken. You can also:
- Explore Washington DC with this huge list of virtual field trip locations.
- The sole purpose of virtual tours doesn’t have to be education. Have some fun with your tween checking out places like the jelly belly factory, Legoland, and Harry Potter magic.
- Tour the Big Apple with these fun and informative online tours of New York City.