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Google via YouTube

Google is Bringing Free Virtual Reality Field Trips to Schools

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Google via YouTube

Field trips are a great way to bring kids into the worlds they hear about in the classroom. But for students in the Bronx learning about Aztec ruins in Mexico, that was easier said than done. That is, until Google tested their new virtual reality technology at the Bronx Latin School in New York City, giving students the chance to scope out the view from atop Chichen Itza and study ancient carvings at Tenochtitlan—all without ever leaving their school. 

The test run was part of the Google Expeditions initiative, which aims to bring free virtual reality field trips to students in the U.S., the UK, New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil. The technology uses a smartphone inside a cardboard viewing shell that displays images from Google Street View. The pictures move when viewers turn their heads, creating the illusion of a 3D environment.  

Teachers interested in bringing of the program to their classrooms can apply at Google Expeditions' website. Spots are limited, and Google says they plan to only visit schools where at least six teachers have signed up. Kits include everything the teachers need to conduct their virtual field trips, including cardboard goggles or Mattel View-Masters, ASUS smartphones, and a tablet for teachers to organize trips. 

The materials are relatively cheap to produce, and the kits could one day become a fixture in classrooms around the world. Studies have shown that virtual reality forges a deeper connection between pupils and the material that’s being taught than traditional learning alone. With access to virtual reality in the classroom, students can look forward to tours of Independence Hall, the Great Wall of China, or even a casual trip to Mars when they walk into school each day.

[h/t: Wall Street Journal]

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Tulane University Offers Free Semester to Students Affected by Hurricane Maria
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As Puerto Rico continues to assess the damage left by Hurricane Maria last month, one American institution is offering displaced residents some long-term hope. Tulane University in New Orleans is waiving next semester’s tuition fees for students enrolled at Puerto Rican colleges prior to the storm, Forbes reports.

From now until November 1, students whose studies were disrupted by Maria can apply for one of the limited spots still open for Tulane’s spring semester. And while guests won’t be required to pay Tulane's fees, they will still be asked to pay tuition to their home universities as Puerto Rico rebuilds. Students from other islands recovering from this year’s hurricane season, like St. Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are also welcome to submit applications.

Tulane knows all too well the importance of community support in the wake of disaster. The campus was closed for all of the 2005 fall semester as New Orleans dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. During that time, schools around the world opened their doors to Tulane students who were displaced. The university wrote in a blog post, “It’s now our turn to pay it forward and assist students in need.”

Students looking to study as guests at Tulane this spring can fill out this form to apply.

[h/t Forbes]

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Pablo, a Groundbreaking New BBC Series, Teaches Kids About Autism
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BBC

Autism spectrum disorder affects one in 68 kids in the U.S., but there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the nature of the condition and what it feels like to have it. As BuzzFeed reports, a new British children’s program aims to teach viewers about autism while showing kids on the spectrum characters and stories to which they can relate.

Pablo, which premiered on the BBC’s kids’ network CBeebies earlier this month, follows a 5-year-old boy as he navigates life with autism. The show uses two mediums: At the start of an episode, Pablo is played by a live actor and faces everyday scenarios, like feeling overstimulated by a noisy birthday party. When he’s working out the conflict in his head, Pablo is depicted as an animated doodle accompanied by animal friends like Noa the dinosaur and Llama the llama.

Each character illustrates a different facet of autism spectrum disorder: Noa loves problem-solving but has trouble reading facial expression, while Llama notices small details and likes repeating words she hears. On top of demonstrating the diversity of autism onscreen, the show depends on individuals with autism behind the scenes as well. Writers with autism contribute to the scripts and all of the characters are voiced by people with autism.

“It’s more than television,” the show’s creator Gráinne McGuinness said in a short documentary about the series. “It’s a movement that seeks to build awareness internationally about what it might be like to see the world from the perspective of someone with autism.”

Pablo can be watched in the UK on CBeebies or globally on the network's website.

[h/t BuzzFeed]

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