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“What did you do at school today?”

“I went swimming with sharks and turtles in a coral reef and then I saw a volcano erupting in Iceland!”

Thanks to Google Expeditions, many students in the district could have had this very conversation recently. Over the past several weeks, Google Expeditions offered students a collection of virtual reality field trips taking them to museums, oceans, and even outer space. The 360-degree photo and video panoramas are enhanced with details, points of interest and questions so they can be integrated into the class curriculum.

Expeditions are accessed and viewed through an app and viewfinder box that allows a teacher to choose a trip and lead a group of students through a virtual Expedition. Teachers are able to point out specific details within the panorama, pause trips to discuss educational points, play ambient sounds to make the experience even more immersive, and let students freely explore on their own.

In addition to swimming the coral reefs and witness an erupting volcano in Iceland, students reported some of their favorite trips were going into the stratosphere to view Earth from above; seeing penguins in Antarctica; getting “up close" with gorillas in the Congo; and seeing national monuments such as Mount Rushmore.

When Meghan Fitzgerald, technology integration specialist at Palmer Lake, learned about the Google Expeditions opportunity, she shared it with her colleagues at other schools within the district. An opportunity for students at one school grew into an opportunity for students throughout the district. Over the past month, students at Fair Oaks, Elm Creek, Brooklyn Middle, Woodland, Palmer Lake, Weaver Lake, Rice Lake and Rush Creek were able to participate in this opportunity. This is an excellent example of the benefits of district-wide collaboration and idea-sharing among staff.