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Virtual reality sends Lee’s Summit students to faraway places without ever leaving the library

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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. -- School field trips used to involve students loading onto a bus.

Not anymore.

One school system in the metro is using Google's new virtual reality system, transporting students to faraway places.

Show and tell has a whole new meaning. Students at Pleasant Lea Middle School in Lee's Summit are getting a look inside Google Cardboard, a new virtual reality viewer that's taking them to faroff places.

“Look over here,” Andy Pfeifer, a seventh grade teacher, told a group of students, as they held the Google Cardboard apparatus to their faces.

One glance inside these goggles is like being whisked away to another place. Pfeifer used the technology on Friday morning, taking students on a virtual tour of notable sites in Jerusalem, as part of his lesson on civilizations in the eastern hemisphere.

As students take the tour, which is built by Google, virtual reality leads to visual learning.

“It seemed like something that could really benefit my lessons, and it gives the kids something new to look at. It's more fun and more engaging,” Pfeifer told FOX 4 News.

Students still use their textbooks in the classroom, but this enhanced visual aid puts them inside the lessons. When the student moves, the images inside the eyepieces move along with them, offering three-dimensional photos on a 360 degree scale.

“This gives these kids an opportunity to go places they couldn't go before,” Pfeifer continued.

Students say the headsets bring lessons to life, and helps commit items to memory.

“When I read about it, I say, 'ok, this is cool.' but when I see it, it's like, 'this way better than having to read about it,” Abby Jacobsen, a seventh grader at Pleasant Lea Middle School, said.

“Some kids might not be able to go there and visit sometime, but others may,” Paige Wilbert, another seventh grader at the school, said.
“It's like you're looking at all the things that are there, and it's like you're there.”

Faroff places aren't the only destinations. Health students at this school are also using Google Cardboard to study human anatomy, as the viewers get an in-depth look inside the human body.

The Lee's Summit School District purchased 30 Google Cardboard headsets, which cost around $200 apiece. They'll be used by students at every middle school and high school in the district.