An educational trip to Stonehenge will let you experience and appreciate the true human ingenuity behind this prehistoric monument.
Over the past couple years we have seen access to virtual reality quickly move from the lab to the classroom, opening up an entirely new way for students to learn and interact with school curriculum.
In fact, Google launched a program called Expeditions dedicated entirely to helping bring virtual reality field trips into the classroom. And so far, it seems to be a success, with Google stating that over 500,000 students have taken a VR field trip through their Expeditions Pioneer program.
The impact of virtual reality in the classroom is promising, especially with schools that may lack the resources to actually take students on field trips. Being able to virtually transport a room filled with enthusiastic children to the Great Barrier Reef or Buckingham Palace while the teacher happily guides you through the experience with fun facts – that can be an invaluable learning experience.
VR can be an extremely powerful tool for immersing students into these new worlds and places – to see things they have never seen before. But there is more. Educational VR experiences also have the potential to go beyond what we just see on the immersive surface and actually let students feel a sense of scale or beauty that when visiting in real life you might not actually experience.
One example of this is through the latest Stonehenge VR experience created by VoyagerVR.
On the surface, Stonehenge VR is a demo that can be loaded up on an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive that takes you on a guided tour of Stonehenge, a monument that most have probably never visited in their life. The virtual tour guide teaches you about the history and archaeological evidence around this mysterious man-made construction – everything you would hope from an educational VR field trip.
But what makes Stonehenge VR unique to even visiting in real life is that you can walk wherever you may please in the monument. When Stonehenge was first opened to the public it was possible to walk among and even climb on the stones, but the stones were roped off in 1977 as a result of serious erosion. So not only is VR letting you see this faraway location, but in fact giving you an entirely new view of the monument up close and personal, which when seeing the scale and size of the stones in VR gives you a new appreciation of the construction.
The VR demo also allows you to set the time of day you take your tour of Stonehenge, letting you experience the monument during sunset or even at night, giving this prehistoric monument a sense of beauty that even actual visitors have said can be lost in real-life.
When speaking with Xtian Bretz of VoyagerVR, the close to 10 minute long demo took a couple months to create by referencing aerial photographs, 360 photo spheres from Google Maps, documentaries and measurements found online. Stonehenge was then modeled in Maya and brought to life in this Oculus Rift demo.
For those looking to check it out, the demo is available on their website with availability on the Oculus Share store coming as soon as they approve the application according to the creator. A Google Cardboard VR version will also be made available this month.