Friday, January 9, 2015

Explore the Grand Canyon - right from your classroom

Grand Canyon National Park offers free distance learning programs for classrooms, including virtual field trips, lessons aligned to national and state standards, explorations and more. There are lesson resources and DVDs for loan to teachers.

The Grand Canyon National Park’s Distance Learning Program is a great resource for schools to let their students explore one of the most famous national landmarks. 

The students get to talk with a park ranger online and learn all about the Grand Canyon.

You can find out more in the press release below. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                       MEDIA CONTACT:
Jan. 08, 2015                                                                                       Chris Fiscus
(602) 417-1329

Visit Grand Canyon Without Leaving Classroom
Technology provides students with virtual experience of the national park

GRAND CANYON – Students now have the opportunity to visit the iconic steep views of Grand Canyon without ever leaving the comfort of their classrooms. All they need is curiosity, Skype or an IP connection.

It can be a major undertaking to physically bring students to the Grand Canyon. But thanks to technology, classrooms everywhere can easily visit through Grand Canyon National Park’s Distance Learning Program.

In 2014, the free program reached about 4,000 students in 26 states.

“We really can connect with just about anyone,” said Amala Posey, distance learning coordinator for Grand Canyon National Park. “A lot of kids can’t get to the Grand Canyon anytime soon, but we can bring the canyon to them.”

Posey points out the curriculum is designed to complement what students are learning in their classrooms, such as geology or ecology. “If you’re studying plate tectonics, why don’t you use Grand Canyon as your subject matter?”

The distance learning program produces curriculum-based education programs for students, but is also used to connect with college students, nature centers and adult learners. The program is used by K-12 students, and more specifically those in third through sixth grade. Each program puts park rangers face-to-face with students.

Eight different programs are offered to schools, including the popular, “Ask a Ranger,” session where students spend time with a ranger discussing Grand Canyon ecology, geology and human history. Other sessions focus on ancient life in the canyon, fossils, or summing up the last 12,000 years – in one hour.

A recent session began with an aerial view of the canyon before taking students inside.  Rangers explained the canyon’s rich history and moved down into the Colorado River, giving students the experience of hitting rough rapids on a river trip.

The Grand Canyon Association, the official non-profit partner of Grand Canyon National Park, helped make the program a reality, giving more than $100,000 to supply the technology that makes it all possible.

“The kids are sitting in New York and all of a sudden they’re 2,000 miles away at the canyon and they say ‘ahhhhhhh’ when they first see it,” said Jacob Fillion, branch chief for resource education and international program coordinator for Grand Canyon National Park.

Past classroom sessions included schools in Canada, Mexico and most recently, Germany. The hope for the national park and Grand Canyon Association is to expand the program to other countries worldwide.

Response from students and teachers has been positive. One student convinced his family to vacation at a national park after participating in a session. “That’s why we are doing it,” Fillion said. “These kids are really connecting with the national parks in their neighborhood.”

More than 200 schools visit the Grand Canyon each year, and rangers travel all over the state thanks to Grand Canyon Association funding. But the distance learning program puts rangers and the canyon within reach of any classroom. You can support this program and others that help Grand Canyon National Park at

About the Grand Canyon Association:
Founded in 1932, the Grand Canyon Association (GCA) is the National Park Service’s official nonprofit partner raising private funds to benefit Grand Canyon National Park. The GCA operates retail shops and visitor centers within the park and provides premier educational opportunities about the natural and cultural history of the region. The GCA works to help preserve and protect Grand Canyon National Park by cultivating support, education and understanding of the park.



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