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Fifth Grade students visited the Mariners Museum in Virginia


Onekama Students Participate in Virtual Learning

During the past month, Onekama Elementary School students have been busy crossing the country, visiting places including Virginia, Nebraska, and Washington D.C. … and all of this has taken place without students ever leaving the school building.


Thanks to a grant provided by the Manistee Rotary Education Fund of the Manistee County Community Foundation, these students were able to participate in interactive virtual field trips. Each of the trips was linked to the students’ social studies curriculum.

A park ranger led the third graders in a discussion comparing present-day schools to a school in 1870


Third grade students participated in an interactive trip given by the Homestead National Monument in Nebraska. During the live, two-way videoconference, a U.S. park ranger guided students through the monument and helped students understand what life was like for our country’s early pioneers. Using artifacts from early pioneers, the ranger led a discussion in which students compared and contrasted a present-day school day with one in 1870.

Onekama fourth graders visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC


For fourth grade students, who recently completed a unit on American symbols and monuments in social studies, their interactive field trip took them to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in our nation’s capital. A museum curator showed students ten pieces of art from the museum that included U.S. signs and symbols. The curator spent time dissecting and discussing each piece of art, helping students understand the artists’ motivation and technique.

Fifth grade students were able to extend their understanding of the middle passage and the slave trade through a virtual field trip program titled “Captive Passage.” The trip, provided by the Mariners Museum in Virginia, was led by a museum employee who engaged students in a discussion about triangular trade and the horrid conditions that took place on slave ships. Students were shown artifacts including shackles in powerful presentation.

Onekama School is fortunate to have the technology to make these dynamic learning experiences possible. The school’s Distance Learning room is equipped with videoconference equipment, including speakers, cameras and monitors. This equipment allows students to see and hear the presenter -- and vice-versa – in real-time so that the presentations are truly interactive.


Distance Learning field trips provide students with learning opportunities that are not readily available, or possible, in a traditional classroom setting.


“Each of these learning experiences was invaluable,” commented teacher Megan McCarthy. “Few of my students, if any, have yet had the opportunity to travel to places like Virginia or Nebraska or Washington, D.C.  Being able to take them to these places, even virtually, has absolutely enriched our social studies program.”