Google Expeditions

Jaden Lester

You’re scuba diving in the Galapagos. All around you fish and various sea creatures are swimming below and beneath you. You turn your head to the left and in the distance you realize a great white shark is swimming right towards you. You notice your palms are sweating, and your adrenaline is pumping through your veins. The shark is now only a couple feet away from you. You don’t know what to do. Swim away? Try and float as still as possible? All of a sudden, you hear your mom call out your name.

What?

You feel something get torn off your face. Suddenly, you’re in your room on your bed. Your mom is standing beside you with a tiny cardboard box in her hand staring down at you with a puzzled look on her face. Then, it dawns on you. You were never swimming in the Galapagos with exotic fish and ravenous sharks. You were in your bed in a rural Indiana suburb, on a Sunday, and procrastinating to do your homework that’s due the next day… how disappointing.

Swimming in the Galapagos is just one of the many scenarios you can experience in the new Google Cardboard. Created by Google, Google Cardboard is virtual reality that presents realistic 3D scenes on your phone that the user is able to choose. Then, you place your phone in the cardboard box and put it up to your face to see the virtual reality. There are numerous experiences to explore such as roaming space, standing on top of Machu Picchu, or even attending a Paul McCartney concert. The design of the product is simple; it’s a small box that only takes three steps to put together with your phone fitting in the box to display the virtual reality. Prices of the product range from less than $20 to $80 depending on what type of box you get. You can choose from various colors and a wood, plastic, metal, or cardboard form. You can probably even make one yourself if you’re one of those DIY Macgyver types.

Not only is Google Cardboard a pleasurable experience when you have nothing to do or get bored or want to impress your friends, but it can also make a big difference in people’s lives. A four month old from Minnesota, Teegan Lexcen, was born with half a heart and one lung. The doctors said there was nothing left to do, but not wanting to give up, they contacted Dr. Redmond Burke who is one of the ‘20 Most Innovative Pediatric Surgeons Alive Today’. Positioning Teegan’s heart in the right place was Dr. Redmond Burke’s main hardship that needed to be crossed. Dr. Burke had an idea of creating a 3D image of the heart; however, the hospital’s 3D printer at the time was broken, so they decided to give Google Cardboard a try. By pre-planning the surgery, the 3D images portrayed by Google Cardboard were even more exact than the what the printer would have created. The surgery was a success, and, four weeks after the surgery, Teegan Lexcen was breathing on her own.

On January 25, Martinsville High School had the opportunity to experience Google Cardboard. Fortunately for us, only certain schools in Indiana were given the opportunity to try Google Cardboard. Students in numerous classes underwent a virtual field trip, called Google Expeditions, to different locations of the teachers’ choosing. One teacher may have chose to journey to the Galapagos Islands or another may have chosen to venture to Rome. Teachers anticipated that this endeavor would give life to things talked about in the classroom. Many of the teachers hoped that this adventure would allow the students to utilize technology and be able to see everything that Google can do, with us going one-to-one next year. Also, biology teacher Lauren Greve said, “I hoped this encouraged the students to think outside of Martinsville.”

The teachers who underwent Google Expedition reflected on the funny stories and encounters they experienced. “A few of students got a little sick; they didn’t like the movement,” said English teacher Shea Rafferty. Overall, it seemed that the Google Expedition was a success in being able to learn more about Google and all that it can do.