Students Taking Trips Around the World with Virtual Reality Headsets

Dr. Catherine Thomson’s first-grade class is traveling the world. In the last few weeks, they’ve seen vast oceans, sprawling deserts and dark, deep woods … all from the lower school’s MakerLab.

Thanks to our generous donors from this year’s Annual Auction Fund-an-Item, lower school students are exploring new environments, biomes, habitats and even the San Diego Zoo via the Google Expeditions virtual reality headsets!

To prepare for their daily field trips, Thomson’s students sit on the floor of the MakerLab, giving themselves plenty of elbow room. They wait patiently as headsets are passed out and flip to today’s page in their habitat sketch book. Then, the discovery begins!

Most recently, students were transported to a dark, tree-covered forest filled with ferns and other greenery. While the students take in their surroundings, Thomson pinpoints a particular plant she wants the class to see. An arrow pops up in each student’s viewfinder that leads him or her to circle drawn on the area kids need to see. Then the class talks about their findings and sketches what they found in the books.

Thomson says the headsets are helping students understand different habitats and learn where a variety of animals live. “The students really enjoy it and are actually getting to interact with the environments we talk about in the classroom,” she says.

First-grade students Mary Walsh McMahon and Pierce Flemmer agree. Mary Walsh says she loves getting to see different kinds of animals, and her favorite habitat she’s studied is the ocean. Pierce also loves getting to see so many animals, but he remembers really enjoying the sandy desert habitat.

Thank you to the many generous donors who made virtual reality a physical reality for lower school students!