Sherwood students visited the Galapagos islands this week. Others checked out elephants in Kenya and some even took a trip to the rainforests of Brazil. They did this all from their chairs in the classroom, because the trips were virtual. Every journey was a virtual field trip made possible with a virtual reality technology known as Google Cardboard.
Google Cardboard is a virtual reality headset, and, as the name indicates, it is made out of cardboard. It looks a lot like the old viewfinder toys parents may remember from their own childhood. The device houses a smartphone, which is placed in a slot in back of the eye screen. The phone delivers a VR experience, which includes 360° photo spheres, 3D images, video and ambient sounds – and users are transported into a virtual environment where they often feel like they are right there. VR experiences can include anything from a tour of Mars to a ride on a roller coaster.
Carol Virzi, 5th grade ELE/Social Studies teacher at Sherwood Middle School, applied and was selected by Google for a site visit that allowed the students to have this experience. Google, through their Expeditions Pioneer Program, provided the tools and the kits to make it happen, including VRs for each student to use for the day.
“It gives them a real-world view that they never would be able to experience with a lecture,” said Virzi.
Through the program, 20 Sherwood teachers were able to choose from over 400 expeditions. Virzi chose several, including a trip to historic Philadelphia, which helps to support her class’ lessons this year on the American Revolution.
Going forward, Sherwood teachers will be able to continue to use Google Cardboard to augment learning because the school now has several of the devices for check out from the media center. More virtual field trips, as well as career expeditions, are planned for students in the future.
“The career expeditions allow them to see what it’s like to be in a certain profession.”
Careers like marine biology, veterinary medicine and computer science are some of the professions included in the expeditions.
More information about Google Expeditions can be found at: https://www.google.com/edu/expeditions/