Students travel 440 miles in a matter of minutes for field trip

How can you take 570 Lincoln elementary students on a field trip to a paleontology dig 440 miles across the state of Nebraska for free?  With a virtual field trip set up between Lincoln Public Schools and other organizations across the state, the hassle and costs of these learning experiences are minimal.

"National parks and other places in our state offer these opportunities to our students free or at little cost, without needing to get parent permissions slips signed, buses scheduled, lunches packed. It's a great opportunity for our students to get out of the classroom and experience the world around them," commented LPS distance learning coordinator, Linda Dickeson.

The virtual field trips are done using a two-way interactive videoconferencing system set up between the schools and the host organization. The most recent of these virtual field trips was conducted with Agate Fossil Beds in the Panhandle of Nebraska and Prescott Elementary. Park rangers gave tours of their facility, showcased fossils and displayed artists' renderings of prehistoric animals found at the national park.

"I'm going to tell you about some animals we have," said Park Ranger Ann to the 102 kindergartners sitting around the projector screen. "Right behind me is the beardog. Looking at his head, what can we tell about what he eats?"

The experience was set up as part of Prescott's Expressive Arts Day.  Prescott principal Ruth Ann Wylie challenged the school’s specialists to find creative and engaging ways to make the most of shortened PLC days.

“They did a great job developing what we call Expressive Arts Day. They plan physical activities, arts events and other things that relate to what we are doing and expand what students are learning in the classroom,” Wylie said. “Today our students can make the connection to our newly created fossil dig out back in our outdoor classroom.”

The tour of Agate Fossil Beds is just one of the 37 field trips offered to Nebraska educators through the Nebraska Virtual Instruction Source. Schools interested in setting up a virtual field trip can go to at the Field Trip link to choose a location and topic that fits into their lessons. Topics and organizations range from NASA to national parks, art museums, and how food gets from the farm to our tables.

For more information about distance learning opportunities, contact Lincoln Public Schools distance learning coordinator Linda Dickeson at

Published: August 26, 2015, Updated: August 26, 2015

The image on the video screen has been enhanced in this picture to better represent how it looked to students.