BA2_2829Soon, teachers around the world will be able to take students on virtual journeys, bringing their lessons to life.

On Monday Mount Vernon students had an opportunity to pilot Google’s Expeditions Pioneer Program, a virtual reality field trip app, developed specifically for the classroom. These expeditions are guided tours, comprised of virtual reality panoramas and are led by  a teacher. From a tablet, the teacher can guide up to 50 students wearing virtual reality viewers or “Google cardboard” plus a cell phone.

The program is being tested in classrooms around the country, prior to its rollout sometime this summer. In the meantime, Google is asking for user feedback to make improvements – a practice Mount Vernon students implement every day.

BA2_2682Grade 4 teacher Margaret Gunter and grade 9 History teacher James Campbell collaborated to bring the program and a Google Educator to our students. Together, they guided 20 sessions throughout the day.

Various grades in the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools experienced journeys related to their individual units of study.

  • Grade 3 dove deep into the ocean.
  • Grade 4 walked the Grand Canyon.
  • Grade 7 went to Washington, DC.
  • Grade 12 visited the Acropolis in Greece walked through the bustle of downtown Manhattan.

Other experiences included: Mount Rushmore, Ellis Island/NYC, the Lincoln Memorial in DC, Mayan Ruins and the Great Barrier Reef.

Mrs. Gunter reflects on the experience, “We were all pleasantly surprised at the more than 135 different experiences in which students could participate. The students were so excited to be a part of this experience and every time a new expedition began you could hear a wave of “wows” and “awwws” throughout the room. This reaction was sparked by the realistic nature of the virtual tour in which students felt that they were actually there.”

“The fourth grade used Google Expeditions to deepen their knowledge of the rock cycle and weathering and erosion of rocks,” she continues. “We looked at landforms, The Grand Canyon, and Mayan and Aztec ruins to deepen our understanding of weathering and erosion over time. The opportunities for students to be transported outside the classroom walls opens unlimited doors to learning.”

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