Virtual Field Trips Bring Nature Home
The school field trip programs at Duke Gardens have always emphasized direct observation and hands-on experience—all of which has required radical rethinking in the age of COVID-19. The education staff is developing new virtual lessons aimed at helping students grasp basic science concepts and explore the wonders of the natural world without leaving home.
“Rather than adapt our on-site programs, we’ve started from scratch by going back to Durham Public Schools’educational concepts and objectives and figuring out how we can effectively convey them virtually,” says education program coordinator Kavanah Anderson. “The goal is for students to have those kinds of experiences where they are, and for us to continue to teach observation skills and learning from the outdoor world that is around us everywhere in ways that are not specific to the Gardens.”
That said, the new programming will continue to emphasize Duke Gardens as a hub for scientific curiosity, inquiry and research. Recorded slideshow tours will provide students with glimpses of the Gardens throughout the seasons, allowing for a more holistic view than is possible on a single visit.
Students will learn about the role of Duke Gardens as a habitat for insects and other animals, using information that Duke entomology classes have gathered on site for biodiversity studies every year since 2014. And they will explore the underlying math of common patterns and shapes in flowers and trees.
Teachers looking for more tailored content have additional options. In a new interactive Zoom series called Ask the Garden, Gardens staff members answer students’ questions about a wide range of topics in real time. DPS teachers may also make appointments to record class videos at Duke Gardens.
In collaboration with our neighbors at the Nasher Museum of Art, the education team is adapting the popular “Double Exposure: Connecting Science and Art” program for second-graders to a new virtual format. Duke Gardens will also participate in Field Trip Fridays in conjunction with the Museum of Life and Science, in which students will learn about different kinds of science through virtual visits to Durham landmarks.
“Here we are in this situation where we’re all learning remotely, and school is happening virtually, but there are still so many opportunities to be learning from the world around us,” Anderson says. “As the seasons change, and plantsand animals progress through their life cycles, there’s always a ton to observe and learn about. We’re excited to find ways to get teachers and students engaged in learning outside from wherever they are.”
By Katherine Hale
Marketing & Communications Assistant
“Here we are in this situation where we’re all learning remotely, and school is happening virtually, but there are still so many opportunities to be learning from the world around us.”