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Google Expedition Tour Lands in Lancaster ISD

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 Monday, November 9, 2015


Google Expedition Tour Lands in Lancaster ISD


Lancaster, Texas /Lancaster ISD - About 500 Lancaster ISD George Washington Carver 6th Grade STEM Learning Center students traveled to Brazil, India and Nigeria in less than 60 minutes and without leaving their classroom with the help of Google Expeditions.

On Friday, November 6, the Google team provided complete expeditions kits with everything the social studies teachers needed to take their students on real-time journeys right inside of the classroom.

"It is a great tool because we are seeing what is actually there," sixth grade student Angela Mata said. "I wish we can have this in all of our classes."

Students used Google Cardboard Virtual Reality Viewer, a cardboard-clad custom eye viewer that encases a smartphone-like device connected to a wireless router that allows the teacher to control the student excursions with a tablet. Students use the Google street view to examine populations and their culture of through a satellite view of what is occurring in another country region and even in outer space.

At the Carver campus, what appeared to be a classroom discussion on multiculturalism as usual was propelled to the next level as students in Kristina Chandler’s class placed the Google Cardboard Viewer on their faces and identified familiar structures such as local restaurants like McDonalds and unique landmarks such as the "Christ the Redeemer" statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Google Representative, John Alfone explained that the students are actually seeing what is happening in real time through the use of virtual reality technology to see places often seen in their textbooks or mentioned during classroom discussions.

"Virtual Reality is a really popular hot topic right now and this pilot [expedition] is Google’s extension of its Google Classroom and its way of introducing virtual reality technology into the classrooms of students in K-12 grades. It is a great aid to help supplement a strong curriculum."

Carver social studies teacher Jeremy Johnson agrees.

"It opens up a whole new world for them. It brings it alive for them and wakes them up," he said. "Then, they want to learn more about the world around them." The Lancaster Independent School District serves more than 7,000 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students in 11 schools. Our vision is that all students achieve self-sustaining success and leave a lasting legacy. And our mission, in collaboration with parents and communities, is to ignite learning that translates into sustainable success for all students in an ever-changing society.

In Johnson’s classroom, it was evident that students were fully engaged as they began walking around the room as if they were walking down the street in Brazil, pointing as they made new discoveries on their virtual journey.

He capitalized on this teachable moment and encouraged the student s to look at the structures, analyze the economy, gage the population density, and to observe and compare the cultural differences in comparison to their daily surroundings.

Lancaster ISD Blended Learning Specialist Nicholas Keith saw the students engaged in this experience and described it as, "awesome, hilarious and ultimately incredible."

"Just watch them," he said. "It is the perfect supplement to a social studies curriculum. I see students who are actually struggling starting to get the concepts."

At the close of the period, LeJarian Merchant, a sixth grader, summed up his multicultural lesson on culture, the economy and differences in other cultures and punctuated with a key summarizing statement.

"We took a field trip, but actually did not go anywhere."

Kimberly Lane, Lancaster ISD Blended Learning Specialist, felt this experience was a must-have for students.

"Our students deserved this experience. It opens the minds of the students, helps them to see beyond Lancaster’s borders, gets them to asking questions and starts them to dreaming," she said. "Hopefully, it causes them to also dream about getting to those places one day."

Lane also commented that this experience could prompt discussions about coding and computer science careers.

Both Keith and Lane are a part of the Lancaster ISD STEM Instructional Team whose goal is to provide Lancaster ISD students with engaging, rigorous 21st Century learning experiences that will prepare them for success in a future society. This instructional focus serves as a complement to the district’s Vision 2020 mission to ensure that all students achieve self-sustaining success and leave a lasting legacy.

The Google Expedition Program is geared toward students in K-12 classrooms and allows teachers to customize the field trip voyages to their curriculum.

Click HERE to see our students in action.


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