By Rachel Prusso
Introducing a new and innovative way to travel: Go anywhere, from the Ancient Aztec ruins to the depths of the ocean without leaving your home.
Google tested its new virtual reality experience, the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program, with Morristown High School students last week.
“Field trips are an opportunity for students to really be able to experience what they’re learning,” said Brendan Dermody, manager of Google Expeditions.
Students donned cardboard goggles that housed screens linked to an Android mobile phone.
During “expeditions,” teachers instructed students to look into the goggles as if they were binoculars, for panoramic views of places like the second tallest waterfall in Mexico, Piedra Volada.
The goggles immersed students in misty rain forests and rocky cliffs, as if they student were standing right in front of the scene.
The teacher directed students to follow an arrow that appeared on the Android screen. As students marveled at the visuals, the teacher explained the history of these virtual surroundings.
By the end of the beta testing, students were asked for feedback. Some said the visuals made them feel queasy and others said the picture quality irritated their eyes. Yet most seemed amazed by the goggles’ stimulating effect.
They stood up in awe and looked around as though they’d discovered the ability to teleport.
Google intends to show more than tourism scenes; images of both World Wars are planned.
“The idea is to help students grasp these abstract concepts,” explained Dermody. He also says Google is trying to use these goggles to bring books to life as well.
The goal is to have the goggles in classrooms to help stimulate the everyday learning experience.
“They’ll be a great tool to use once they’re released,” said MHS science teacher Rodney Lee.
He said Morristown High tries to keep up with the latest technology, for an innovative school environment. “It was a really great opportunity to have Google pick our school to do the beta testing,” Lee said.