Technology News

Tech Happenings at SMA

St. Mary’s is abuzz with excitement over recent technology announcements and activities, including a visit from Google Expeditions Pioneer Program on January 6.

Google Expeditions Pioneer Program is designed to bring a beta version of Google’s virtual reality technology into schools and other educational programs at no cost. It carries a mutual benefit—the educational program gets the opportunity to explore this new technology and Google gets the feedback it needs to continue improving it.

Google currently has over 100 expeditions available, allowing students the opportunity to get a 360-degree virtual tour of places around the world, such as historical sites like the Great Wall of China and the Palace of Versailles, or environments like the moon or the Great Barrier Reef. Students use viewers made of cardboard surrounding a smartphone to explore the views while a teacher guides the tour through a user-friendly and informative tablet app.

On January 6, twenty groups of St. Mary’s students joined the Google team in the Commons on the third floor for 30-minute virtual expeditions with their teachers. Tours included sacred sites in Jerusalem, historical sites of ancient Rome and Greece, famous literary sites in London, biomes across the globe, workplaces of veterinarians and pharmacists, and (a crowd favorite!) the habitats of sharks (just to name a few).

In exchange for this day of virtual tours, students and teachers were asked to provide feedback to Google about the technology and its possible uses. According to the Google team that visited St. Mary’s, Google hopes to make the technology available for purchase sometime in the next year. Of course, the Google Expeditions activity is only one of the many exciting technology-based opportunities that are coming to fruition at St. Mary’s this month.

The Robotics Team (dubbed the Beta Blues) is forging ahead, thanks to funding coming in from a NASA grant and private donations.

St. Mary’s received official notice that we are an Apple Distinguished School, the first high school in Oregon to receive that recognition.

Opportunities like the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program, the ADS recognition, and the Robotics Team open doors for St. Mary’s students and faculty to expand and deepen learning in ways that have not previously been possible. We can’t wait to see what happens as we begin exploring these new territories!