Educator Spotlight: Virtual Exploring

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The following post was written by Joe Grabowski, a sixth- and eighth-grade science and math teacher in Ontario, Canada, and a 2016 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow. The Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program is a professional development opportunity made possible by a partnership between Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic Education. Read more about Joe here.

Joe is a teacher-adventurer who occasionally swims with Carribbean Reef sharks in Bimini. Photo by Jillian Morris

Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants
I was completely floored when I was selected as a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, bound for the Galápagos Islands in August! 

But this won’t be the first time I’ve used exploration and travel to bolster my teaching. Using Google Hangouts, I’ve made a regular practice of connecting my students live with scientists, explorers, and conservationists from around the world. We’ve joined an expedition to an active volcano in Italy, hung out with an Adélie penguin colony in Antarctica, and chatted with an explorer from the bottom of the ocean—just to name a few of our adventures.

But I wanted to give more students the opportunity to experience exploration in action. That’s why last September, I started a nonprofit called Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants. Through virtual field trips with eager guest speakers, we can bring science, adventure, and conservation into classrooms all around the world. These experiences supplement curriculum while also developing students into global citizens with meaningful role models and valuable perspective on our world’s most pressing questions. And our global community is growing every day! Just six months since the organization’s launch, we’ve hosted 75 Google Hangouts from 15 different countries, featuring globetrotters, conservation groups, and National Geographic Explorers.

From San Jose, California, Mrs. Klien’s fifth-grade class hung out with researcher Jean Pennycook and a colony of Adélie penguins in Antarctica. Photo by Mrs. Klien

Join the adventure!
Since the virtual field trips are hosted on Google Hangout, several classrooms can join onscreen at once and interact with the speaker. I also stream the events on YouTube, which allows for any number of viewers. And if you can’t join live, you can watch on YouTube anytime after the event. Get started by signing up for our newsletter and following our social media pages to stay in the loop. All you need is a laptop with a built-in webcam and a Smart Board or projector. Sign up for events early to secure a live, onscreen slot for your classroom.

Join the adventure in April as we head to South Africa, the Cook Islands, the UK, and Iceland to learn about bugs, African penguins, cave exploration, and more!

orange educatorDo you know a great educator who teaches about our world? Nominate a colleague or yourself as the next Educator of the Week!

The Educator Spotlight series features inspiring activities and lessons that educators are implementing with their students that connect them to the world in bold and exciting ways.


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