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MRES & SSAE Come Together for an Expedition Across the Universe
"It looks like you're really there," said Naomi Perkins, fourth grade student at Springs Studio for Academic Excellence, "you could see other things that you just can't go to."
Naomi, along with other elementary students from SSAE joined with fifth grade learners from Meridian Ranch Elementary School on March 4 to experience the universe together through Google Expeditions. Google describes Expeditions as a new product that allows teachers to take their classes on virtual field trips with 360° photo spheres, 3D images, and video, and ambient sounds. The modules, guided by the students' teacher, are annotated with details, points of interest, and questions that make them easy to integrate into curriculum that has already been taught in the classroom.
"We're coming together for a fun day of learning, working together with a unique hands-on experience," said Katy Gibe, fifth-grade teacher at MRES.
"It shows how well our district works together," said Lori Hall, Springs Studio for Academic Excellence. "Although we're at different schools, we really aren't different. We can learn, work and have fun together."
A Google representative arrives with all the necessary equipment for the travels: a tablet for the teacher, and carCboard viewers and phones for every student. The teacher selects a destination, and the entire classroom jumps there automatically. Google Cardboard is a virtual reality viewer made almost entirely of actual cardboard, allowing anyone with a modern smartphone to experience virtual reality.
"We saw sharks in the ocean," said Trystan Sweeney, SSAE fifth-grader," and lots of famous places that we just can't go to any other way." The students hope to make the learning experience available to other students at the schools.
"We're working on a presentation to get these Google Expedition goggles at our school for others that didn't get to do what we did today," said Rhian Baudoin, MRES fifth-grader.
"We're going to show them to Mrs. Leon," Rhian continued, "If she approves, we'll show them to the PTA. We hope we can bring these goggles to our school."
The Wildlife Conservation Society, PBS, the American Museum of Natural History, the Planetary Society, and the Palace of Versailles contributed to developing the curriculum for students.
"To be able to bring them there, and make these places we've learned about come alive...well, you can't put a pricetag on that," said Gibe, "and two schools from two different zones coming together is really powerful for the kids."
"Today's been fun," said Naomi, "You get to meet new people and you can make new friends."