Zoo, tutoring company to put on free 45-minute online ‘field trip’ Wednesday

The San Diego Zoo will be hosting a free virtual field trip available to anyone with an Internet connection on Wednesday — an interactive encounter that will highlight the zoo’s newest exhibit under a partnership with a tutoring company.

The 45-minute class, called “Wild Wonders — Habitats & Adaptations,” is being put together by Varsity Tutors and the zoo’s education staff. Those who sign up will be able to view it live at 1:30 pm After the event, it will be placed on the company’s public YouTube channel.

The class will focus on the zoo’s new Wildlife Explorers Basecamp, an exhibit that opened in March, exploring “unique features of each ecosystem” and the adaptations that “allow wildlife to thrive,” according to a news release.

A second class will be offered Sept. 21 on ecosystems, food webs and the interconnectedness of living things in a habitat.

The two classes are part of a paid partnership arrangement between Varsity Tutors and the San Diego Wildlife Alliance, a zoo spokesperson said.

Brian Galvin, chief academic officer at Varsity Tutors, will host the program along with zoo education staff. He said the program is part of the company’s StarCourse series which highlights STEM topics with celebrity instructors and subject experts.

StarCourse classes — which the company began offering in 2020 — have been led by guest instructors such as actress/game show host Mayim Bialik, musician/actor Stevie Van Zandt and former astronaut Leland D. Melvin. It has featured organizations such as the Field Museum, the Smithsonian and the New York Stock Exchange, the company said.

The company has put together about 350 of the classes.

The goal, Galvin said, is to get children excited about learning. While the target audience is elementary students and their parents, it is available to “learners across the country,” he said.

“We wanted to partner with leaders and people (students) look up to — it is a kind of virtual field trip series,” Galvin said.

Galvin said the program helps build brand awareness of the tutoring company and also shows how online learning gives students access to educational opportunities.

“Thanks to the power of technology, we’ll get up close with the students’ favorite animals to learn how their superpowers — from flight to camouflage and everything in between — help the animal survive in its habitat,” Emily Berglund, San Diego Zoo education experience manager, said in a statement. “Virtual programs create a unique opportunity for students around the world to connect with the wildlife at the San Diego Zoo from the comfort of their homes, no matter where their home may be.”

Students who log on Wednesday will be able to interact with the class hosts through chat and polling features, Galvin said. The program is being promoted through social media advertising.

People interested in attending the class can sign up at varsitytutors.com/classes

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