A new partnership announced Tuesday promises to give students in Niagara Falls and other communities in Western New York access to something they might appreciate during these difficult pandemic days and that's virtual field trips to popular and educational locations across the region.
Representatives from AT&T joined Niagara Falls School Superintendent Mark Laurrie and representatives from the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center and five other local attractions to announce the creation of a new Virtual Field Trips Program.
The program, which also involves the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo Museum of Science, Explore & More - The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children's Museum and The Buffalo History Museum, will allow tens of thousands of students to experience free virtual field trips throughout Buffalo and Niagara Falls in a memorable, fun and safe way. All other schools and districts across Western New York interested in participating in the video tours are welcome to use the program for their students.
The AT&T Virtual Field Trips program provides both prerecorded videos and live virtual leader-led tours. Some of the programs offer downloadable materials for teachers and interactive kits for students. The program is designed to provide a wide array of offerings tailored for students of different ages, ranging from first through 12th grades. To help eliminate economic barriers and to foster inclusion, this unique program is provided free of charge for all students and classes that attend Buffalo or Niagara Falls public or charter schools and Western New York Title 1 schools. This program is made possible by a $75,000 contribution from AT&T and the generosity of the partnering cultural and educational institutions.
“At this time, more than ever, our students need to experience the rich heritage and culture Western New York offers,” Laurrie said. “The ability to build a child's background knowledge through a creative and interactive way is meeting the needs of young people in a cutting edge manner. The support of AT&T is a gift that will last long in the schema of the children of Niagara Falls.”
The authentic stories shared at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center highlight the extraordinary results that are achieved when ordinary people stand against oppression. On a live virtual field trip, museum educators will connect with classrooms remotely in real time. During a facilitated, interactive program, students will learn the history of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls while engaging in dialogue that will help them recognize the modern injustices that stem from slavery and think critically about what steps they can take to create a more equitable, just, and free society.
"The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is thrilled to participate in the AT&T Virtual Field Trips program," said Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center Interim Director of Education, Christine Bacon. "This is an amazing opportunity for students to be inspired by ordinary people who took extraordinary steps to overcome great obstacles. Now more than ever, we need stories like this to uplift us."
The Buffalo History Museum offers tours recommended for students in 4th through 6th grades. Each virtual field trip includes a live Zoom tour of two current exhibits with a member of the Museum’s education team. Tours must be booked in advance.
The Albright-Knox invites teachers and students to join us for virtual experiences designed to support the development of the critical and creative thinkers of tomorrow. Opportunities include live virtual guided tours and pre-recorded videos that will serve as a teaching resource to focus on critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. Students will discover works of art from the Albright-Knox’s collection and exhibitions through a range of learning strategies, including open-ended and guided questions, conversation, and activities.
The Buffalo Museum of Science's experienced facilitators will bring a unique educational experience and scientific expertise to students and educators. Whether participants are looking for an eye-popping science demonstration or a Behind-the-Scenes virtual tour, students and teachers can customize programming to suit specific needs and grade level. If school district guidance allows, kits can also be assembled and delivered to schools to give students immersive, hands-on experiences.
Children of all ages learn through exploration and grow through creativity. In this spirit, Explore & More invites young learners -- the innovators of tomorrow -- to “Explore, and More!” Explore & More has created seven interactive videos that can be used together or individually by teachers. Each video includes a tour of one of the Educational Play Zones; a related activity and/or experiment that can easily be replicated by parents at home or teachers in school; and concludes by highlighting a STEM career. These tours are ideal for third to fifth graders.
“As thousands of local students are either following a distance learning or hybrid model as a result of Covid-19, we are proud to help provide this opportunity and support educators who are keeping our students connected and to help ensure students aren’t deprived of the educational experience field trips to museums provide,” said Amy Kramer, New York president AT&T. “We are thrilled to collaborate with these remarkable educational cultural institutions that are not just pillars of this community, but have also been enriching our children’s educations for generations, and AT&T is happy keep the spirt of these field trips alive for this year and provide students of all ages some sort of normalcy.”
For more information on the AT&T Virtual Field Trips program and the various virtual educational tours and instructions on how to book a virtual leader-tour or to access the videos and virtual assets newly produced by the participating institutions, visit https://exploreandmore.org/att-virtual-field-trips/.