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Around the world, back in time in one class period

From the top of the Great Wall of China, to the Stone Age, Gates Chili students are exploring the world today and long ago with the help of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).


This is the second school year that Gates Chili students are using Google Expeditions with the help of Innovation Coaches Mike Munski and Chris Amesbury. The duo of teachers on special assignments are helping to facilitate lessons that explore history, science, the arts and the natural world using 3D immersion technology.


“VR and AR are bringing to life the subjects students have learned about in text books,” said Munski. “This allows for a truly immersive experience.”


The cardboard VR viewers utilize iPods to allow students to explore 360-degree scenes and 3D objects, interesting sites and time periods. Gates Chili students have gone back in time to learn about the Great Depression, explored geography of many countries around the world, discovered an underwater ecosystem and even traveled to ancient Egypt.


“Students are able to tour the world up close and see parts of history,” said Stacy Kanaley, sixth-grade social studies teacher at Gates Chili Middle School. “In social studies, we focus on ancient civilizations. VR brings those regions to the classroom and we are able to feel like we were there.”


During and after the field trips, teachers lead students in planned activities giving students a chance to share their learning.


Middle school students are not the only ones utilizing this tool. Gates Chili kindergartners have visited virtual farms and high school students have used the headsets to visit the Holocaust Museum and various earth science landforms.


For Munski, this exciting new way to deliver content has him reenergized. He said, “The best part of these virtual reality experiences are when we transition to a new scene and the students collectively ‘oooh and ahhhh’ when discovering the 3D environment of the tour. We are always on the lookout for better tools to enhance the student experiences taking place in the classroom.”

boy using VR headset  teacher helping boy with computer