Imagine having a panoramic window in your classroom through which you and your students could see orcas frolicking in a bay or bears catching salmon leaping up a waterfall! All you have to do is set up a projector and go to explore.org live bear cam or one of the other available cams.
Depending upon the season and time of day, you and your students can see live cams of orcas, puffins in their burrows, osprey raising their young, bears catching salmon and teaching their cubs, pandas, walrus lazing on a beach, hippos and elephants, fish under the sea or bees working in their hive.
As I watched these cams over the last few months, more and more learning benefits became apparent. Consider the possibilities:
- Students can go on a spectacular excursion without leaving the classroom (no costs, no paperwork, no committees to navaigate, no OH&S issues).
- Each cam has a discussion board beneath it so they can ask questions and discuss what they are seeing with explore.org staff and park rangers.
- The animals aren’t performing – they are just doing what they do in the wild. Sometimes nothing is happening on cam. Other times … wow!
- Students learn what time zones really mean.
- Students can take screen shots, like the one below, to use in projects.
- Students can follow, day by day, the ups and downs of living in the wild. (These cams are not Disneyland!)
- The opportunity is there to engage with researchers in the field.
- Having the live feeds running in the background, while students are engaged in their routine learning activities, adds to the classroom atmosphere- just like a panoramic window!
- With the availability of affordable live cams, perhaps you and your students could set up a similar cam to observe local wildlife.
With a little creativity teachers can use technology to bring rich learning experiences to students with very little cost or effort. Ask you students for some ideas too! Maybe set up a collaboration between a few schools. What would work best for you and your students?
Below (and above) are some of the pictures I captured while watching the live cams. There is a camera tool provided with the cams.
A mother bear catches some salmon for her eager cub.
Ranger Mike gives a live online chat about the fishing bears of Katmai National Park in Alaska.
A group of walruses (complete with frequent loud belching noises!) bask on a beach on Round Island Alaska.
Following the progress of a baby puffin named ‘Joy’ from when she was an egg until she left the left her burrow on Seal Island in Maine USA.
An orca surfaces off Hanson Island British Columbia. Humpback whales and sealions also make an appearance.
Fish cautiously avoid a barracuda off Cape Fear, North Carolina USA.