Rolesville Middle School Beta-Tests Google Expedition Pioneers Program

April 2016

By Lisa Brown
lisa.brown@rolesvillebuzz.com

Excited and eager Rolesville middle schoolers were treated to a virtual field trip via Google Expeditions, a new initiative Google is launching later this year in the United States as well as in schools over the world.

Google Expedition

Rolesville Middle School students beta test the Google Expeditions Pioneer virtual reality program. Photos courtesy of Angie Morris

Google Expedition Pioneers is a virtual reality platform built for the classroom, providing teachers an opportunity in which to explore the world and beyond. Google worked with teachers and content partners to create more than 100 journeys.

Like using a modern day View-Master, students are able to look through the goggles and see panoramic views of the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and coral reefs, among a other destinations. In one afternoon, a student could be at the bottom of the ocean and on the surface of the moon walking in Buzz Aldrin’s footsteps. Once a student puts on the goggles, he or she enters a journey and can manipulate the scene by moving left to right and up and down, providing a true panoramic experience.

Google Expeditions is in beta-testing mode, and when Rolesville Middle School teacher Shannon Lowery heard Google was seeking beta partners, she applied. Once the school was accepted, Google sent a representative to train teachers and lead the journeys.

The goggles are made of cardboard, and schools are given templates so goggles can be made for the school’s use. Schools then can make good use of what would otherwise be trash while keeping costs low. In the goggles, students’ devices can be safely attached and synced with a teacher’s iPad.

Google ExpeditionAfter Rolesville Middle School students tried the goggles, they were asked to provide feedback. Google takes students’ suggestions seriously and has already implemented some of them. Students’ initial reactions were that of wonder and awe, and many first responses were “Wow!” and “Ooooh!” and “Aaahh!” However, once the question and answer period started, students provided thoughtful and imaginative feedback.

The school’s library media specialist, Angie Morris, said she was thrilled at the feedback showing critical thinking from the students. One especially well-thought-out piece of advice came from a student with very specific suggestions on how to snap the phone into place on the goggles.

“This gives kids a voice and shows them real-world examples of how critical thinking works,” Morris said.

In addition to feedback regarding the product itself, students were asked how Google Expedition could be used in the classroom. Answers given ranged from simple to complex, including suggestions to visit areas of study in social studies to examining the insides of a cell in microbiology.

Whatever the application or subject, Google Expedition will be used, and it will be not just useful but fun as well.

As one student summed it up: “This is the future of everything.”

For more information on Google Expedition Pioneers, go to www.google.com/edu/expeditions