We all remember the days when we’d arrive at school, permission slips and bag lunches in tow, ready to venture forth on a field trip. Those were the days we waited for all year. Yet most field trips cost money, require lots of planning, and can only go as far as a school bus can take you.

Today we’re launching a new initiative on Google+ called Connected Classrooms that enables students around the world to take “virtual field trips” through Google+ Hangouts, visiting places they would otherwise never be able to explore. We’re kicking things off today with field trips to the Seattle Aquarium, the Minnesota Zoo and the Solar Impulse hangar. Later, teachers can sign up to take their classrooms on virtual field trips hosted by organizations like National Geographic, Matilda the Musical, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and more than 20 other partners.

Teachers are already using Google+ to make learning more relevant, collaborative and accessible—from exploring a world-class art museum to staging a play to venturing into space. Connected Classrooms aims to make it easier for teachers to access exciting educational content to share with their students. In addition to the virtual field trips, teachers who visit the Connected Classrooms site will have the opportunity to join a Google+ Community with other educators to collaborate on field trips and share best practices for using digital tools in the classroom.

If you’re a K-12 teacher, head over to the Connected Classrooms site and learn how your classroom can participate.