Whether they live in snowy Detroit or land-locked Atlanta, students all over the world who want to learn about killer whales, or orcas, can now get up close to these amazing animals right inside their classrooms. SeaWorld Orlando recently launched a live video call program (free for teachers) that allows classes to dive into marine mammal biology, questions, and careers in a new way. This virtual field trip is a 30-minute live, interactive call featuring trainers and whales. 

Since launching the pilot program last year, SeaWorld educators and trainers have hosted 30 live video sessions and were recently recognized by the International Marine Animal Trainer Association (IMATA) with two awards: The “Outernet Technology Award” recognizing outstanding use of technology, and the “Education Conservation Award.”

“We know students are fascinated by, and have questions about, marine mammals, especially whales. Video conferencing directly with our trainers, seeing the whales interacting up close and in real time, is a chance for them to learn about and engage with these animals in a way not possible through a textbook or movie, to get accurate information firsthand from animal experts,” said SeaWorld’s director of education Judy Jenkins. 

“Today’s students are masterful at applying technology to advance their studies. Using these tools to visually interact with someone a thousand miles away has become second nature to this generation, and provides educators the opportunity to activate and enliven their curriculum in a fun, meaningful way.”

How does it work?
  • SeaWorld’s education team works one-on-one with each teacher to tailor the chat to their curriculum and the students’ ages.
  • The interactive sessions are led by trainers, poolside with the whales, and cover topics including: physiology, behavior and communication; positive reinforcement animal training techniques; scientific insights learned by studying orcas at SeaWorld that can help whales in the wild.
  • Following the interactive session, the floor is open for students to ask the experts any questions they have about the animals, their care, or the trainers.
Teachers interested in SeaWorld’s video call sessions can visit SeaWorldOrlando.com/Education.

PHOTOS: © 2016 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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