SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – With some school districts not taking their students on field trips due to COVID-19, the Butterfly House and Aquarium is still finding ways to give them an immersive experience.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Butterfly House & Aquarium is seeing a steady flow of visitors.
“It’s been so busy that we’ve actually had to start requiring reservations,” Otto said.
They’re currently limited to half capacity. CEO Audrey Otto says this has made hosting school field trips difficult.
“We could have anywhere from 30 to 200 kids come through from one school on a field trip, and that isn’t going to be a possibility for us this year,” Otto said.
Otto says part of the value is immersing yourself in the facilities exhibits.
“The immersive experience. The hands-on experience is what makes this such a special place and such a valuable field trip for kids,” Otto said.
But thanks to a partnership with PIN Studios, they’re able to bring the field trips to the classroom in a fully immersive 360-degree experience.
“Anyone that enters the virtual tour will be able to walk just like they would through clicking, like you’ve seen with Google Maps; you clicked on the road, but now you just click down a hallway,” Giedd said.
Brand Manager Thad Giedd says classrooms will be able to dive in to familiar areas.
“You’ll see the different tanks, exhibits, sting-rays, butterfly conservatory things, and then if you see one thing of interest, you can click on it,” Giedd said.
Throughout the tour, you can find over 34 pre-recorded informational videos.
“We also have behind the scenes with our aquarist to learn about what it takes to take care of aquariums and all the work we do there as well as a video about when we receive butterfly shipments,” Otto said.
You’ll also come across some familiar faces to give you guidance.
“You’ll see, on the tour, Audrey and Michelle be kind of like a hologram,” Giedd said.
But it’s ultimately up to you on where you decide to go.
“They’re choosing what videos to watch, what to interact with on the 360 views,” Otto said.
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