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Toronto Zoo hosts its first Skype virtual field trip with students in Port Alberni, B.C.

Left to Right: R. Hale, Toronto Zoo, A. Cockburn, Toronto Zoo, M. Seaman, Microsoft, J. Kennedy, Microsoft &
M. Holland, City of Toronto
Photo Credit: Microsoft

Left to Right: MK. Whibbs, Toronto Zoo & J. Kennedy, Microsoft
Photo Credit: Microsoft


TORONTO, Jan. 23, 2017 - Today, in celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation and Microsoft's ongoing commitment to making education immersive, inclusive, and inspirational, the Company announced the launch of Explore. Teach. Build. Designed for K-12 classrooms, the campaign gives Canadian students the opportunity to learn more about their country – without leaving their classroom.

"We believe that technology in the classroom creates new learning opportunities, regardless of their location," said Janet Kennedy, President of Microsoft Canada. "In celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary, Microsoft Canada is helping to break down barriers in an innovative way and inspire students to explore every corner of this great country."

In celebration of Canada's 150th, Microsoft invited students from Port Alberni, B.C. to explore in partnership, one of Canada's premier destinations – the Toronto Zoo – at no cost through the power of Skype. The virtual visit provided students with an opportunity to build a deeper understanding of Canada, and what it means to be Canadian through an 'immersive learning adventure' with the Zoo's Great Lakes conservation program.

"The Toronto Zoo is proud to partner with Microsoft on the launch of the new Explore. Teach. Build. education program that will benefit thousands of students across Canada," says John Tracogna, CEO Toronto Zoo. "From over 4,000 kilometers away, students connected one-on-one with the Zoo's Curator of Fishes to learn about the importance of our Great Lakes and what they can do in their communities to face the challenges in the coming decades."

Using a single classroom device, teachers can take their students to destinations around Canada and give them an opportunity to interact in real-time with tour guides and educators at heritage sites and points of interests – inspiring Canada's next generation of explorers and innovators. Additionally, teachers can leverage the lesson plans created for each location and easily integrate into their existing curriculum.

"Our class studied salmon last year, and this year we are making connections about fishing and salmon to our Social Studies unit on the West Coast First Nations People," says Kristine Clark, grade 3 and 4 teacher with Wood Elementary School from Port Alberni, B.C. "We figured out the perfect link among programs - using what we learn from class, to create a Minecraft First Nations village that centres on seaside living and fishing. The students are beyond excited about all of it!"

To continue the learning experience, students have the chance to participate in the Explore. Teach. Build. Challenge. The challenge allows for classrooms to create a Canadian moment or favourite part of the virtual trip using Minecraft: Education Edition and share them online using Office 365 Sway or Mix presentations.

Microsoft's Explore. Build. Teach. program is endorsed by Microsoft will also be providing a variety of free resources to help educators participate, including Teacher Ambassadors who will be on hand to offer free professional development workshops focused on Minecraft: Education Edition. Virtual Field Trips will be available at all Microsoft Store locations across Canada for students to explore Canada's history and educators will also be able to request a set of Windows 10 HP devices with Minecraft: Education Edition installed. To learn more, visit

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About Microsoft Canada

Established in 1985, Microsoft Canada Inc. is the Canadian subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq "MSFT") the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Microsoft Canada provides nationwide sales, marketing, consulting and local support services in both French and English. Headquartered in Mississauga, Microsoft Canada has nine regional offices across the country dedicated to empowering innovation, prosperity and security through great software - any time, any place and on any device. For more information on Microsoft Canada, please visit

About Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo is Canada’s premier zoo and a national leader in saving wildlife to ensure the rich diversity of nature for future generations. More than a tourist attraction, the Toronto Zoo boasts a number of leading programs for helping wildlife and their natural habitats – from species reintroduction to reproductive research. A world-class educational centre for people of all ages, the Toronto Zoo is open every day except December 25 and attracts approximately 1.3 million visitors each year. Toronto Zoo is accredited by CAZA (Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums) and AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums). Look for these logos whenever you visit a Canadian zoo as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. For more information, visit and

Natasha Beynon
Tel: 416-262-8488
Toronto Zoo:
Katie Gray
Tel: 416-392-5941

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