Mount Airy students take a virtual trip to Philadelphia

Students at Mt. Airy Middle School visited with staff at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Thursday to discuss the use of medieval armor and weaponry.

But they didn't have to travel far to see the museum's medieval exhibits.

Instead, seventh-graders gathered in the school library for a virtual field trip with Izzie Fuqua, a distance learning educator with the art museum.

Fuqua took students on a virtual tour of the museum's medieval exhibits. She described how medieval armor and weapons were made and how they were used, including an actual demonstration of how chainmail armor holds up against a medieval sword.

"It's much better than looking at a picture in a textbook," media specialist Pam Lichty said.

Lichty said this is the first virtual field trip Mt. Airy students have participated in, but the technology is available at all Carroll County Public Schools.

While taking 187 seventh-graders to the museum would have cost a "small fortune," Lichty said the four sessions of the field trip for students Thursday cost $120 each.

Seventh graders Aidan Moffatt and Hailey Kirkendall said it was better to interact with someone who has first-hand knowledge of the medieval history instead of simply reading from a textbook.

"We learned a lot," Aidan said. "It was a good experience."

The pair didn't hesitate to say "yes" when asked if they would like to do it again.

Tandberg video conferencing systems were first installed in Carroll middle and high schools two to three years ago, according to Terry Holechek, coordinator of curriculum and instructional resources.

The systems were installed in every elementary school last year, he said.

With the technology, every school now has the capability to participate in high definition virtual field trips and interact with classrooms throughout the county.

Holechek said the systems are used minimally, but he expects that to change in the future.

"I do see its use increasing," he said. "We're just now in its infancy stage."

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