ACS students take 3-D Google tours

Published 8:25 am Friday, December 11, 2015

Annunciation Catholic School students enjoyed a field trip across the globe Thursday morning, and they never even had to leave their school building.

Google’s Expeditions Pioneer Program paid a visit to ACS, allowing the school’s students to try out some of the company’s newest technology. The Expeditions program uses cardboard viewers and smart phones with special software that allows the students to take 3-D “virtual” tours of famous landmarks.

ACS was one of a few selected schools in Louisiana who were given the opportunity to “beta test” the new product before it is released publicly.

“We like for our students to experience as much new technology as they can,” said Derik Thompson, ACS technology coordinator.

Thompson explained that ACS uses ChromeBook computers and other Google technology already, which allowed for the school to join Google’s mailing list. When news of the Expeditions beta test was released, Thompson was quick to help the school sign up.

Students who participated in the virtual field trips were mesmerized by the technology. Depending on the direction they were facing, the kids would see a completely different viewpoint in the virtual world. Some of the trips they enjoyed included exploring the interior of an airplane cockpit, and a panoramic view of the London Eye Ferris wheel in England.

“I thought it was really cool,” said ACS fifth grader Molly Gallaspy. “You can see just about anything that you want. I think my favorite was when we were on top of the Ferris wheel.”

A teacher uses a tablet computer to help lead the instruction, allowing the faculty member to see the same views that the students do. In one field trip lesson, a teacher asked the students to find as many numbers as they could in an airline terminal.

“It’s an amazing technology,” Thompson said. “They’ve got field trips where you can see dinosaurs, or watch a documentary with the subject right in front of you. It’s very exciting.”

Fifth grader Seth McClendon said that the virtual tours were fun, but there was one small drawback.

“If you use it too long, you can get a little dizzy,” he said, with a laugh.

Thompson said that school officials invited key members of the community to experience the new technology as well, including Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette and State Rep.-elect Malinda White.

“It’s really something that has to be seen to be believed,” he said.

Thompson noted that Google representatives visited the campus Thursday, and asked the students for feedback when the virtual field trips were over. The students’ answers will be used to help tweak the technology before it goes public.