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OES Students on 'Expeditions' Around the World and Beyond

Donovan McPhearson, second grade student at Odyssey Elementary School, uses Google Expeditions Mar. 1. "I'm going to tell mom and dad I went all the way around the world in school today!" said Donovan McPherson, Odyssey Elementary School second-grader.
Google Expeditions arrives in Colorado for the first time Mar. 1, immersing Odyssey Elementary School students in experiences that bring abstract concepts to life, giving students a deeper understanding of the world beyond the classroom.

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.
"It makes it come alive," said Moreen Whitson, second grade teacher, "they make the connection with what they studied in the classroom with pencil and paper." 
A Google representative arrives with all the necessary equipment for the travels: a tablet for the teacher, and Cardboard 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.  
Moreen Whitson, second grade teacher at Odyssey Elementary School, drives Google Expeditions for her students Mar. 1. "We've been studying biomes," said Whitson, who took her students to deserts, forests and Antarctica during the 30  minute session, "this is opening new doors and expanding the ability to learn with what they have in their backpack. It's using what is now a common household device."
Stephanie Hazelton, a fifth grade teacher, applied to Google Expeditions in October 2014. "We found out just two weeks ago they were coming," Hazelton said.
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.
The Odyssey Elementary Parent-Teacher Association awarded Hazelton a grant for the purchase of nine Google Cardboard sets. "We'll probably use teacher phones, old donated phones, or even the kids' phones," said Hazelton. While Expeditions is not currently available to the public, Odyssey teachers have already identified other programs that use the new technology. 
"It's a unique opportunity," said Whitson, "you hear how effective it is with all the 'oohs' and 'aahs'!"
Kayla Cash, second grade student at Odyssey Elementary School, explores the world with Google Expeditions Mar. 1.  Moreen Whitson, second grade teacher, drives Google Expeditions for her students Mar. 1  Makayla Lee, second grade student at Odyssey Elementary School, explores with Google Expeditions Mar. 1.
Read about the event in a story by the Colorado Springs Gazette
Watch the expeditions on KRDO NewsChannel 13
Matt Meister