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Virtual Reality Education Spotlight: Parks Explorer Classroom Field Trip

This past year I’ve been pretty excited about the potential for virtual reality in education. This weekend I visited Austin, Texas to meet with fellow Nearpod Pionears who are also pumped about how virtual reality can be used in the classroom. Although I’ve already shared some of my favorite virtual reality lessons (here’s the Nearpod list) and some of my favorite Google Cardboard apps (like these five), I’m excited to kick off a new series of posts on virtual reality education tools for the classroom.

Parks Explorer is an app for iOS and Android devices that works with headsets like Google Cardboard (grab yours for under $10). This app lets users take a trip to different national parks. Of course there is nothing quite the same as looking at El Capitan in person, if taking a field trip to Yosemite is out of the question for your students, a virtual field trip might be in order. Virtual reality in the classroom can transport students to places they wouldn’t be able to visit and can spark their interest in faraway places.


There are a handful of individual apps from the folks at Parks Explorer that let you try out a hike and a birds-eye view of different parks. Even though this technology isn’t quite perfect, combining this app with a low-cost Google Cardboard can give students an idea of what they might see when visiting a national park.

When might you use this educational virtual reality app?

If you are reading a biography of John Muir or Theodore Roosevelt, you may want to introduce this app to students. It can help them draw connections to the real world and provide background knowledge as students learn about their lives and impact on the United States. If you are kicking of a unit on land forms or rock types, the Parks Explorer apps can help students build the vocabulary you’ll want them to use as you introduce new information over the course of a unit.

Here’s some extras you might be interested in: Check out this favorite national park app and lots of science resources for your classroom.

Getting Started with Virtual Reality in the Classroom!


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