Deer Lakes Middle School’s Google Expeditions Program
Sixth graders at Deer Lakes Middle School were recently able to pay a visit to legendary Mount Fuji without ever stepping foot outside their school.
The students marveled at their ability to see the actual base of Mount Fuji and later its summit through the virtual reality program which allowed them to experience the iconic Japanese landmark through the amazing Google Expeditions VR Program – the tech giant’s virtual reality device program. Deer Lakes Middle School is piloting the program this year.
As part of these virtual field trips, students wear headsets with handheld devices inside. Using a tablet, teachers broadcast images to the devices. For each lesson, talking points and questions are loaded on the teacher’s tablet. During an excursion, teachers expound on information discussed in class or preview future topics.
World Geography teacher Sue Fink is leading the middle school’s program, which works in conjunction with an app the students download to their personal cell phones. “This program immerses our students in such an authentic feeling environment that it’s easy to understand why they begin to almost feel like they are actually there rather than in a classroom half a world away,” said Fink.
Fink said she loves the devices because they help her students experience a lesson in a way a textbook or a video could never accomplish.
The Google Expeditions Program offers some more than 500 professionally created field trips. Fink intends to use the devices throughout the school year to explore different environments while in the classroom including Antarctica, The Great Barrier Reef, the 360 Holiday Tour at the White House, Norway and the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square, and various parts of South America.
This is the first year Deer Lakes has used the Google Expedition Program and while the district currently owns 11 headsets, it intends to purchase more going forward so that more students can gain from that experience.