Elementary students become world travelers

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Eighth-graders at Christ the King School in Mesa traveled to Iceland via a Google Expedition to virtually experience key sites Jan. 4. (courtesy photo)
Eighth-graders at Christ the King School in Mesa traveled to Iceland via a Google Expedition to virtually experience key sites Jan. 4. (courtesy photo)

Students at Christ the King School in Mesa just returned from Christmas break, but are already leaving the classroom again. At least virtually.

They used part of their first day back from vacation Jan. 4 to virtually visit an array of places across the globe via Google Expeditions. Students embarked on a total of 18 field trips, chosen from close to 150 destination options.

Destinations included  places such as Jerusalem, Gettysburg and the Grand Canyon. The trips were collections of virtual reality panoramas — 360° photo spheres, 3D images and video — annotated with details, points of interest, and questions that made them easy to integrate into the classroom.

The expeditions helped kick off new units of study as the third quarter of the school year gets underway. Eighth-graders, for example, explored Iceland to see Waterfall Svartifoss, the Highlands  — a place virtually inaccessible for centuries — and the Blue Lagoon Thermal Resort.

“It was a wonderful start to a new unite because the 3D images immerse the students to give the bigger picture to better understand what we are learning,” said Patti Diedrick, a teacher.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, PBS, the American Museum of Natural History, the Planetary Society, and the Palace of Versailles contributed to developing the curriculum for students. While nothing replaces hopping on the bus for a field trip, school leadership said the expeditions provided an unique chance for the students to see places they wouldn’t otherwise.

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