School Finds Virtual Reality Headsets Advancing Learning

School Finds Virtual Reality Headsets Advancing Learning
Berlin Intermediate sixth grader Trista Harner is pictured before the Worcester County Board of Education demonstrating how the virtual reality headsets work. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

BERLIN – Teachers at Berlin Intermediate School are bringing their lessons to life with new virtual reality headsets.

At this week’s school board meeting, Berlin Intermediate School sixth-grader Trista Harner and media specialist Nancy Stearns demonstrated how students are now using the Google Expeditions app and virtual reality headsets to explore places around the world.

“It’s a very neat experience because it approaches a whole different side of learning,” Harner said.

Last year, BIS purchased a class set of virtual reality headsets through a grant from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore and supplemental funding from the school’s PTA. The headsets were purchased to be used with the free Google Expeditions app, a teaching tool that gives users the chance to take part in virtual trips all over the world.

Principal Tom Sites said the virtual reality headsets were selected because they could be used by each of the school’s grade levels and in various classes.

“We wanted to do something for the entire student body,” he said.

With the headsets, which are available in the media center, teachers can show their students everything from the pyramids in Egypt to Old Salem in Massachusetts. Harner guided school board members through a virtual visit of Old Salem during Tuesday’s meeting.

Stearns said Google Expeditions now offered 600 such virtual field trips. There are even optional lesson plans that accompany some of the trips. Teachers are able to use them if they choose.

“The field trips are high quality,” Stearns said, adding that they included historical sites as well as science lessons and even glimpses of various occupations.

Through the program she said students had access to more places than they’d ever be able to actually visit.

“There are so many different things we’d never be able to take the students to,” she said.

Harner agreed and said her social studies teacher was planning a Google Expeditions visit to the pyramids to coincide with a unit on ancient Egypt. She said she’d enjoyed using the program so far.

“It’s very neat to learn and figure out and discover,” she said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.