In the Junior School we were honoured with a special visit from Google. As part of a global programme called the Expeditions Pioneer Programme, they were visiting a selection of schools in a small number of countries. Their short tour of the United Kingdom brought them to Edinburgh for the day and Watson’s were selected to trial their new virtual reality application Google Expeditions which is not yet available to the public. When available, people will be able to visit all sorts of wonderful places from the comfort of their classrooms.
The Google team brought three kits with them, allowing three classes to take part at a time. This meant that a selection of Primary 3, Primary 4 and Primary 5 classes, plus all Primary 6 and 7 pupils were given the chance to go ‘hands on’. In each kit there were 30 sets of Google Cardboard, a cardboard pair of 3D glasses, and smartphones which slotted in. The teacher controlled everything from a tablet and could point out interesting things for pupils to look at and discuss. When the landmark was pointed out the app put a circle around it and then it had an arrow directing you to whatever the teacher wanted you to look at.
We were taken on a number of tours, ranging from the craters of the moon, to the bottom of spectacular coral reefs. The experience was very realistic as you were able to look around and turn a full 360 degrees and the camera would move with you. It was like you were actually there!
Our favourite tour took us into Space. We were able to experience travelling on a spacecraft, looking back at the Earth, and took part in the very first Moon Landing with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. The experience of wearing the headset was a bit strange at first. When you were looking down, we expected to see our desks but instead we were able to see a different part of moon surface.
Other tours we went on included many of the major landmarks in London. This was valuable ahead of our Primary 7 trip because we were able to stop and explore various other attractions that we were only had time to walk past whilst we were there.
Andreas and Matt from Google asked us questions about the application and we gave feedback to improve the app before it is launched to the public at some point in the next six months.
Isla and Gabriel (P7)