Math is all too often considered a dry and laborious subject, and while mathematicians are indeed very studious individuals, the study of math needn’t be confined to chunky textbooks.
After all, math is the code on which our very world, nay, our universe is built.
The trick to getting children hooked on numbers is to introduce them to mathematics in a fresh and exciting way, which is why we’ve scoured the web to find you the best virtual math field trips around.
1. Möbius Madness
Created by the National Museum of Mathematics, Möbius Madness introduces your students to one of the most fascinating topological objects in existence… the Möbius band.
These intriguing forms offer no distinguishable clockwise or counterclockwise turns, confusing the eye and baffling the brain, but they’re so much more than an optical trick; the math that defines the Möbius band is utterly amazing.
Loaded with hands-on activities, this field trip will lead your children on a rollercoaster ride of mathematical discovery, and as it’s not textbook-based, it’s far more engaging, even for those who are downright terrified of numbers.
2. U.S. Census Bureau
From the museum, to the Census Bureau, this field trip offers children a behind-the-scenes introduction to what the Census Bureau does and why.
Now, we know this might not sound like the most exciting virtual field trip, but on the contrary, the Census Bureau is actually a fascinating facility.
Census taking isn’t just the incessant collecting of information for information’s sake. The data gathered by the bureau tells a story through the language of numbers.
It reminds of our history, tells us how we’re doing as a nation in the present, and where we might be headed in the future.
What’s more, after all the intriguing interviews and lessons, this field trip concludes with a super fun interactive challenge that your students will absolutely love!
3. Discovering Polyominoes
We’re back at MoMath for our third entry, with their fantastic Discovering Polyominoes virtual field trip. Although your students have almost certainly heard of dominoes, we’re willing to bet that polyominoes are a new concept to them, one that will intrigue and mystify in equal measure.
This fleeting course explains how you can make a wealth of surprising shapes all by simply combining squares of equal size. Students are then tasked with solving a number of super fun polyomino puzzles sure to add tons of excitement to the classroom atmosphere.
Of course, the children are going to want to have a go at creating these awesome forms themselves, so be sure to have tons of paper, pencils, and scissors to hand when you present this field trip to them.
4. Math At Work: Math Meets Home Building
One of the things we hear from arithmophobic students day in and day out is that they’ll never need to know the math concepts we’re trying to teach them in the real world, thus excusing their lack of engagement. However, this virtual field trip busts that myth with aplomb.
Joining Ty Pennington from ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition TV show, students are shown how mathematics and real-world applications intersect through the building of a house.
It’s a fantastic way to shake things up and get your students thinking seriously about math and how it might play a key role in their careers.
5. Math At Work: Math Meets Culinary Arts
From the same Math at Work series as Math Meets Home Building, we have Math Meets Culinary Arts, this time with co-host of ABC’s The Chew, Carla Hall.
This virtual field trip transports your students to The Institute for Culinary Education where a class is tasked with demonstrating the importance of proportions, percentages, and ratios while producing an entree, a side dish, and a dessert.
A three-course educational extravaganza, it’ll reintroduce students to math in a fun and accessible way whilst also proving to them that math is essential in “the real world”.
6. Evening The Odds
Evening the Odds is the ultimate probability virtual field trip. Centered around dice rolls, it challenges students to renumber dice to even out the probability of rolling each number.
It’s a baffling concept at first, but as the trip plays out and the children learn more and more about how probability actually works (as opposed to the many myths surrounding this area of study), they’ll come to terms with the task at hand and have tons of fun in the process.
7. Math At Work: Math Meets Fashion
Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg and Project Runway’s Tim Gunn form a fashionable team in this virtual field trip to The Big Apple.
Much like the Home Building and Culinary Art field trips detailed earlier, the goal of this presentation is to show students how math is implemented in the real world, and this time, it uses the fashion industry as evidence.
Over the course of its 26-minute run time, children are shown that not only is math all around them, but all over them. Every single garment of clothes that they own is the product of very precise measurements and mathematical calculations.
As many of your students may be more interested in clothes than math, this field trip is a great way to show them how the two are related.
8. The Future Of Aviation
While this field trip takes more of a general STEM approach, math is still at the core of everything going on in the amazing Boeing facilities your students are virtually invited to.
They’ll be introduced to experts in the field of aerospace engineering, all of which utilize math in some way, shape, or form to move aviation into the future.
There are robots, mechatronics, and ergonomics a-plenty, giving your students tons to sink their teeth into, and, you never know, it might just inspire a few of them to pursue a career in engineering.
9. STEM Careers In The NBA
Sadly, we can’t all be world-class athletes, but just because we won’t be on the court, doesn’t mean we can’t contribute to the success of our favorite NBA teams.
On this virtual field trip, students are shown all the amazing careers playing out behind the scenes of our favorite sports teams and organizations, many of which involve using math to analyze and improve performance on the court.
10. Shape Shifters
For the ultimate in shape-based field trips without leaving the school grounds, check out The National Museum of Mathematics’ Shape Shifters experience, a pre-K-friendly introduction to geometry.
Students will learn about the basic building blocks of modern life and how to identify different shapes among these blocks. They’ll also get a shot at constructing polygons, and if they’re feeling brave, the tetracontakaihexagon!
What’s a tetracontakaihexagon, we hear you ask? Oh, it’s only a polygon with forty-six sides and forty-six angles, one of the most fascinating shapes known to man.
11. Engineering In The Classroom
Now we’re heading over to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the California Institute of technology to see how the sums we do on the page can take us into outer space!
As you can tell from the title, it’s an engineering-heavy module, but it’s a good way to show your students that engineers of all kinds (especially those employed by NASA) use almost all forms of math at one point or another to do their jobs.
This stay-at-school trip reminds us that when working on something as advanced and complicated as a space shuttle, whether manned or unmanned, just one botched bit of math can lead to catastrophe, thus highlighting the importance and thrill of mathematics.
12.Secrets Of Cryptology
On this virtual field trip, your students will be transformed into master code crackers as they learn about the art and importance of cryptography and the role mathematics plays in both code creation and code cracking.
Even children who aren’t enthused about math will love digging into this challenge and learning about substitution cipher. In fact, as it involves a lot of letters, they may not even acknowledge the fact they’re using math to solve puzzles.
Careful, though… Once your students know how to formulate secret codes, the note passing in class is going to get a lot more cryptic.
13. Alternative Perspectives
Alternative Perspectives is an art exhibition at MoMath unlike any other. Anton Bakker’s sculptures introduce students to the artistic aesthetics of math and how a slight shift in perspective can completely alter the reality set out before you.
A compelling and insightful exhibition, children will be utterly captivated by Bakker’s creations and how math intersects with art in such astonishing ways.
Even those who love math will admit that it can get a little monotonous in the classroom with their heads buried in a textbook if that’s the only way you engage with it.
But with these fantastic virtual field trips, you can show off the lesser-known wonders of the most important subject in human history.
Granted, you’ll still be in the classroom, but through the magic of math, your students’ minds will be utterly transported.
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