, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 607-618
Date: 21 Dec 2011

Using Virtual Field Trips to Connect Students with University Scientists: Core Elements and Evaluation of zipTrips™

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Abstract

Physical field trips to scientists’ work places have been shown to enhance student perceptions of science, scientists and science careers. Although virtual field trips (VFTs) have emerged as viable alternatives (or supplements) to traditional physical fieldtrips, little is known about the potential of virtual field trips to provide the same or similar science career exploration advantages as physical field trips. The overarching goal of this paper is to describe a VFT, zipTrips™, designed to provide middle school students, especially those in resource limited rural areas, with access to university scientists. Using zipTrips as a case example, the paper identifies and describes some of the core characteristics and elements of high quality authentic VFTs that foster student-scientist interactions. In addition, the paper uses program evaluation data to examine the impact of zipTrips on student perceptions of scientists.