Students with Kansas Connections Academy and their families had the opportunity for a western Kansas field trip on Friday.

In the virtual public school, students can interact with their teachers and other students through what KCA calls “life lessons” — chat rooms with video and screen sharing capabilities, but a couple times a month offers opportunities for field trips for real-life socialization.

Only a couple of families turned out for the tour of Sternberg Museum of Natural History on a cold and snowy Friday morning, though.

“We have a high concentration of students out east, a lot in the Wichita and Kansas City area, so we see a lot of events happen out there. We’re trying to reach out to the western part of the state,” said Lindsey Rose, an elementary teacher with KCA.

Planning events in western Kansas can be “geographically challenging,” said KCA English teacher Karen Roth. She teaches from her home in Holcomb.

“So far, the turnouts we’ve had for northwestern Kansas haven’t been the greatest,” agreed Tracy Grace, Oakley. Her son Josiah, 13, is enrolled in KCA. A former teacher, she homeschooled Josiah and her older son, Isaiah, 18, after they moved back to Kansas from Arizona.

For a time, the boys attended a private school in Colby, but she was disappointed with the results and returned to homeschooling in 2010. She decided to try KCA for Josiah this school year.

“He loves it. He has constant contact with his teachers, he has contact with a lot of the students in his grade and the different classes,” she said.

She said she’s also pleased with his state test scores.

The Graces were joined by Cassie Robinson, 16, and her grandmother, Donna Robinson, Ellinwood, for the tour.

They toured Sternberg’s exhibits, including “Rattlerssss: From Fear to Fascination” that includes more than 20 live rattlesnakes, and posed for photos with the animatronic T-Rex in the dome.