Enhance your Earth and Space Science Unit with this engaging virtual field trip! Take a tour of three NASA space centers! This ready-to-go virtual field trip includes amazing 360° tours from Google Earth, informational text, and video content with interviews from astronauts and NASA engineers. This is a perfect way to wrap up a unit, and would even make great sub plans. This activity is low prep, completely digital, and includes clickable links to make things simple and streamlined. Critical thinking questions are included throughout the activity.
This virtual field trip begins with a look at the role of NASA. There is also a brief history of the NASA Headquarters and the name change that highlights the contributions of NASA's first Black engineer, Mary W. Jackson. While the United States has 10 NASA field centers, this trip focuses on three: Langley Research Center, Johnson Space Center, and Kennedy Space Center.
Langley Research Center is the oldest NASA field center. In this portion of the trip, students will learn about the Apollo Lunar Landing and will visit the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum to view the Lunar Module up-close using Google Earth. They will learn about landing on the Moon. This includes video footage and first-hand accounts from Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins. As well, students will learn about the contributions of Margaret Hamilton, who led the software team that landed the astronauts on the Moon.
From here, students will travel to Johnson Space Center. They will have an opportunity to tour Independence, which is a full-scale Space Shuttle replica. This include incredible 360° tours inside the shuttle! Next, students will learn about the Mission Control Center and the Saturn V Rocket. Again, there are built in Google Earth links to view up-close!
Finally, students will tour Kennedy Space Center. This includes a look at the Launch Platform, the Landing Facility, and some of the space exploration risks. A video is included with compelling footage from retired astronaut, Chris Hadfield. He explains some of the reasoning and risks worth taking when it comes to space exploration.
This trip is set up in Google Slides to make it easy to assign in Google Classroom, but if your school uses a different learning management system, I've put together this blog post with helpful tutorials and tips for getting this set up with different LMS.
Throughout this digital activity, students will respond to critical thinking questions. These are set up within the Google Slides, but can be edited to tailor to your curriculum or lesson plans.
Check out this virtual field trip here: