A virtual reality tour

Digital Literacy teacher Allison Renda, center, sets up the 360 camera with Broadalbin-Perth Central School District fifth-grade students at Springer’s Farm Equestrian Tuesday as one of their points of interest for their virtual reality tours of Broadalbin-Perth and surounding areas. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

BROADALBIN — Rather than writing to pen pals, fifth-graders at Broadalbin-Perth Central School district are virtually traveling the world by participating in what Google is calling a “virtual pen pal.”

New technology is making it so students around the globe can make a virtual visit through the towns of Broadalbin and Perth and surrounding areas.

Lindsay Quackenbush, public information specialist, said all students at the elementary school have been using the virtual reality goggles visiting several locations internationally and even out of the galaxy.

Some of the places the students have virtually traveled to using VR include the North Pole, Mars, the Amazon River and surrounding rain forest, Machu Picchu in Peru and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“It’s pretty much virtual field trips, without leaving the classroom,” Quackenbush said.

Now through Google Expeditions, the students are making virtual reality tours through the community of Broadalbin to showcase the points of interest.

The students will make their virtual reality tours and then upload them to the Google G+ Community and then students from all over the world will also do the same thing.

“So they’re kind of trading tours as if you’d trade a letter,” Quackenbush said.

Digital Literacy teacher Allison Renda sent in an application to Google Expeditions. Through that application process, Broadalbin-Perth was one of the 100 schools across the world chosen to test this program for Google.

“The virtual reality of tours make the impossible, possible,” Renda said.

Renda said the a 360 camera and creator kit is being loaned from school to school.

Some of the participating schools include close by locations like Herkimer and Albany, along with ones further out such as China and London.

Using the 360 camera the students are creating virtual tours through 18 points of interest within the community that best highlight Broadalbin-Perth School District area.

Renda said the locations were chosen by reaching our to the community and getting suggestions After community input, the students selected 18 different sites to create the tours.

The 18 sites include the Sacandaga Lake, Adirondack Mountains, High Tower Farms 21st Century Automatic Milking Machine, Korona Dairy Farm, Springer’s Farm, Meadowlark Farm, Erie Canal/Mohawk River/Schoharie Crossing, Sandford Stud Farm, Rail Trail, Gloversville Little League, Solar Panels, Nature Trail IS, Nature Trail TLC, Broadalbin-Perth’s Capital Project, History of the Village, Italian Gardens, the Wilkinson Memorial Book Station and Broadalbin Hotel.

Tuesday, the students went to Springer’s Farm Equestrian at 128 Lakeview Road, Broadalbin where they were able to capture a 360 photo of the farm and the horses that call it home. As the 360 photo was being taken, everyone had to hide and duck out of the way so they wouldn’t be seen in the photo.

Renda said so far the experience has been new and exciting for her and all the students. She said the students have been so enthusiastic.

“When would we ever be able to travel or see it through the eyes of a student,” Renda said. “It’s a whole new experience.”

When each school is done doing the research and getting the photos, they’ll submit them to Google to be published.

The school will have to give Google permission to publish the photos though. After about a week Google will send back virtual tours so all 100 schools will be to see and virtually travel around the world in Google G+ Community.

“Those students might see agriculture and these students might see Abbey Road,” Quackenbush said.

Renda said she hopes to finish the 360 photos within less than a month.

She said anyone who would like to follow the experience can do so on social media searching for #GoogleExpeditions and #LoveWhereYouLive, and @GoogleforEDU.

By Kerry Minor

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