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An immersive field trip to America’s homestead

Naperville’s 12-acre living history museum offers an immersive onsite field trip for thousands of Chicago-area school children every year. To translate that experience into a compelling online “virtual field trip” to be used in the classroom, they turned to Night Kitchen Interactive. Together with consultants Michelle Moon and Dina Bailey, we engaged Naper Settlement in a strategy phase to determine an effective plan for creating digital content and sharing it with a virtual classroom. 

A virtual reality tour of different locations.

Night Kitchen captured fifteen 360° virtual tours exploring their historic structures inside and out, featuring over 250 hotspots with embedded archival photos. We created web-optimized 3D models of over a dozen artifacts, recorded fifteen high quality videos featuring museum educator demonstrations and actor performances, and produced a selection of these as immersive VR videos. Night Kitchen and Naper Settlement will be presenting this project at AASLH 2021 and discussing how to utilize digital media to support social emotional learning.

Collaborating with renowned scholars, interpretive designers, and content experts, we crafted three virtual field trips that share Naper Settlement’s educational programs with 3rd to 6th graders. These programs immerse students in the experience of living in the settlement throughout history, from early settlers to the Underground Railroad. Self-paced independent activities are paired with live lessons from Naper Settlement museum educators who help students contextualize the materials. The lessons are easy to use, designed with busy teachers’ needs in mind while giving students the agency to explore on their own.

A photo of Valentina from Night Kitchen and an actress behind the scenes of a shoot. Valentina is wearing a face mask and holding up a phone. The actress is wearing a Freedom Seeker costume with an apron and head cloth.

At the start of the project we consulted with Naperville, strategizing how to create and share their content effectively in a classroom, including identifying standards for technologies and the learning platform. The virtual field trips were launched through Google Classroom for Nonprofits and later ported to Canvas K-12 Learning Management System. We structured all materials as Reusable Learning Objects to facilitate their use in a variety of learning platforms, ensuring this content would be accessible for any school system’s learning management system. These field trips are supported by lesson plans, learner objectives, and resources for teachers that guide instructors and students through their virtual trip to Naper Settlement. Within months of launching, the courses were run for 80 classes across 25 schools. 

Conference Presentation

Night Kitchen presented at AASLH Online on October 12-15, 2021 to share the process of designing our virtual field trips. Learn more about it on our Papers, Workshops, and Presentations page.