Keys Students Dive Into an Immersive Virtual Reality Field Trip

New Delhi, India. 9:35 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. The fifteen students in Ms. Nelson’s second grade class scanned their surroundings as they described what they saw to their classmates – bustling city streets crowded with ornate monasteries, honking taxis, and energetic bazaars filled with food carts, sweet shops, and spice stalls. When it came time to transition to the next period in the day’s schedule, each student returned to the familiar surroundings of their homeroom, still marveling at the exotic sights from their recent adventure.

While day-long field trips to enlightening destinations, such as NASA, San Francisco’s Exploratorium, or the Bay Area Maker Faire, are undeniably powerful learning experiences for students, these trips often require intensive logistical scheduling, reorganizing of classroom time, and careful coordination of transportation.

This year, as a supplement to traditional field trips, students are unlocking their imaginations in the world of Virtual Reality using Keys’ new VR headsets. This Virtual Reality headgear allows students to embark on virtual field trips around the world through interactive panoramic images and teacher-led descriptions.

During the recent second grade virtual field trip, students engaged in a joint social studies and writing unit that asked them to ponder how both place and location shape their lives. Using the VR headsets, teachers took students on a virtual journey to the vibrant city streets of New Delhi, India and the dramatic landscapes of Reykjavik, Iceland. Students used their new descriptive vocabulary to share what they saw with their partners.

Through their in-depth, virtual exploration of distant sites and cultures across the globe, students were able to work together to gain a wider perspective of their current location in relation to the countless diverse and exotic locales around the world.

As Keys students progress through Lower and Middle School, the Virtual Reality technology will be utilized in exciting new ways inside classrooms, with projects ranging from interactive history lessons to designing and building science projects. For instance, in a few short years, the same second graders that participated in Ms. Nelson’s virtual field trip will be working with seventh grade science teacher Ms. Spaeth on designing and constructing 3-D model simulations of solar houses. Virtual field trips have brought down the walls of our classrooms, allowing our students to explore far reaching corners of our planet.

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