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St. Pius X Students Travel the World in Eight Hours
February 9th, 2016

St. Pius X students are going to the Taj Mahal! And to Jerusalem, London, and the Galapagos Islands! It's all happening on Tuesday, February 16 thanks to the magic of virtual reality and the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program.

Google Expeditions is a new product that incorporates the Google Cardboard viewer and allows teachers to take their students on virtual field trips to places they might never be able to visit in person. Students will be immersed in experiences that can help bring abstract concepts to life. And while not replacing actual field trips, Google Expeditions allow an opportunity for supplemental learning that has not previously existed.

The trips will be virtual reality panoramas including 360-degree photo spheres, three-dimensional images and video, and ambient sounds. These collections are annotated with details, points of interest, and questions that make it easy for instructors to integrate the virtual field trips into their existing curriculum. Project contributors include the Wildlife Conservation Society, PBS, the American Museum of Natural History, the Planetary Society and the Palace of Versailles.

English instructor Melissa Page will have her British Literature classes visit London to see many of the places about which they have read. The students will visit Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the Canterbury Cathedral, Sherlock Holmes' house at 221B Baker Street and Westminster Abbey among others.

"I'm excited that the students will get to see in three dimensions the places about which we have been reading," said Page, "We'll be moving from a text that describes places that may be completely unfamiliar to us to being virtually in the very settings of many of our literary works."

"We can see what the characters would have seen (and) be in spaces that inspired some of the most brilliant writers in our history."

Using the provided kit consisting of a teacher tablet and Google Cardboard viewers and phones for students, the teacher selects a destination and instantly "transports" the entire class there. Google Cardboard viewers allow anyone with a modern smartphone to experience virtual reality, and the Google Expeditions Program gives schools a chance to see how to incorporate this technology into an engaging educational experience. Google expects more than two million viewers will be in circulation by the end of 2016.

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