Nipmuc High School Students Take Virtual Field Trips to Machu Picchu, London’s Globe Theater, and more via Google Cardboard

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Throughout the day on Thursday, March 10, Nipmuc students explored Literary London, Canada, Pow Wows, Intertribal Dance, U.S. Monuments, Machu Picchu, and Biomes all through Google Cardboard; a virtual reality app you can use – along with a cardboard viewfinder – on your smartphone.

Nipmuc Technology Teacher Jennifer Lee applied online through Google for the program to visit Nipmuc. The district learned last week Google would be in the area and got busy organizing  18 virtual tours to take place throughout the day today. The experience for the students and district was Free.

12804661_10208489260739025_1984421817339798565_nGoogle Representative Kristen Thomas said the Google Expedition Pioneer Program is part of Google’s education program.  “It allows students to take a virtual field trip related to their curriculum with their teacher as a guide,” said Thomas.

Faculty and students were impressed. Ninth Grade English Teacher Emma Hensler said, “The experience is more powerful than clicking through slides, students get to experience what it’s like to be there.”  Students could be heard saying “wow” and “this is cool” during their field trips.

One student was as impressed has her classmates, although she enjoyed the experience, it wasn’t what she had expected. She compared it to google street view.

12841447_10208489258338965_8373534996191425277_oHow do the expeditions work?

Google provides cardboard virtual glasses, smartphones, and a technical representative all for free.

Teachers can choose from 180 experiences, most of which are science or social studies related, but experiences are available for any curriculum.

The expeditions are comprised of virtual reality panoramas: 360-degree photo spheres, 3D images and video and ambient sounds. For those of you who remember view finders from the 70s, imagine that but 360 with High Definition technology and sound. It was pretty cool.

Teachers control the class expedition from a tablet. They can point to specific areas to direct student attention to what they are talking about; they also have the ability to see where students are looking with icons on their tablet.

Students see an arrow to know the direction of a specific spot where teachers would like them to focus.

Can I do this at home?

You can buy the cardboard viewers on Amazon or eBay for as little as $4. The app is free. You will need a smartphone to slip into the cardboard viewer.

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About Jennifer Doyle

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