There’s some new technology available at the Virginia Zoo

Students sit in on a virtual classroom session held by Explore by the Seat of your Pants. (Southside Daily Photo/courtesy of the Virginia Zoo)
Students sit in on a virtual classroom session held by Explore by the Seat of your Pants. (Southside Daily Photo/courtesy of the Virginia Zoo)

NORFOLK — The Virginia Zoo has recently been given the chance to use new technology to reach people not only in Hampton Roads but also those far away – even as far away as Canada.

The zoo is working with Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants, an organization that brings science, adventure and conservation into classrooms across the United States and Canada by facilitating virtual field trips with leading experts from around the world, according to a news release from the zoo.

Each field trip is hosted through Google hangouts and allows scientists from around the world to present their work and answer live questions from the classes to which they are virtually connected.

In September, the zoo kicked off the program sharing its reptiles through a video chat with classrooms of kindergarteners through 7th graders from five different U.S. states and one province in Canada.

In October, the zoo presented some of its amphibians to a new group of students.

Last month, the zoo offered students the opportunity to ask questions to a zoo Keeper who oversees its African exhibit.

“The biggest benefit of the program is that it allows students from many different localities and backgrounds the access to people and places that otherwise may be inaccessible to them,” said Michelle Lewis, Virginia Zoo education manager. “Many students and school districts are unable to take field trips due to funding or the lack of a zoo or other similar institution within field-trip distance. By partnering with Exploring By the Seat of Your Pants, the Virginia Zoo is able to connect students to amazing animals that they may otherwise never get a chance to see.”

Thanks to the popularity and success of the program, the Virginia Zoo is scheduled to give monthly presentations with different animal groups each time, according to the zoo.

If you are interested in having your class participate in a Google hangout and ask questions, visit http://www.explorebytheseat.com/ for more information on how a virtual classroom works and be sure to apply for the program and register for the next session.

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