Parents and teachers looking to expand student lessons might consider using virtual reality (VR) experiences to turn education into play. With much learning now happening at home, these experiences can also be used to expand the way children are learning.
Big brands from Discovery to the BBC have added VR to their line-up, and while some require moderately to expensive VR headsets, others can be played on more affordable Google Cardboard headsets.
Here are seven apps, some even free, that can transport students beyond the limits of a field trip.
The American Museum of Natural History in New York City helped develop this experience. T.Rex Skeleton Crew
T.Rex Skeleton Crew
With this $4.99 experience, people are invited to put together a Tyrannosaurus rex from fossil bones, and then go back millions of years to when the dinosaur actually lived. There's a game to play, and then students are actually give a tour by Mark Norell, a curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (which helped to develop the experience) about the T.Rex to learn what happens when it loses a tooth or if it could sit on its nest. The T.Rex Skeleton Crew experience is available on Viveport, and works on Vive, Vive Cosmos, Vive Pro and Vive Cosmos Elite.
Walk into a Vermeer painting, or even through the Mona Lisa with the Art Plunge experienceArt Plunge
The Anne Frank House VR experience is free, and has won awards for its VR renderingAnne Frank House VR
Anne Frank House VR
Back in the Oculus Store, take the time to check out the Anne Frank House VR experience, which is free and works with Oculus Go and Gear VR. Virtually walk through the home that hid Anne Frank, including the space where she and her family lived. The experience won two Halo Awards in 2018, a Bronze for cinematic VR and a Gold best non-fiction.
The free Google Expeditions app lets you trek Base Camp at Mt. Everest while still in the classroom.Google Expeditions
Google Expeditions is a free experience designed for both Android and iOS apps — and there are hundreds of options here, with many added in the last few weeks. These experiences are virtual field trips that uses a Google Cardboard viewer and take people all over the world from England's forests to Glaciers to Angkor Wat to Argentina. Some can be previewed, like these beautiful Desert Botanical Gardens.
There are 80 different virtual reality lessons with MEL Chemistry VRMEL Chemistry VR
MEL Chemistry VR Lessons
This experience includes 80 virtual reality lessons plus test as well. Lessons are three to seven minutes long, and cover subjects from atomic mass to ionic bonds. You can get five free lessons to try just for signing up for the MEL Chemistry VR Lessons, and the experience will work on Google Daydream, Oculus Go, Gear VR and any Google Cardboard VR headset that has a button.
Up close with tigers? The Discovery VR app brings these animals and other wildlife right into your classroom or living roomDiscovery VR
The Discovery VR app makes use of the network's extensive documentary content. The app works on nearly every single VR platform: Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard viewers using both iOS and Android devices. Did we mention it's free? Once installed, you, your child or your students can peek at elephants in South Africa, or glimpse Whale Sharks off the coast of Mexico. Some of the experiences are produced in partnership with groups including the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Apollo 11 VR lets you experience the 1969 moon landing from the astronaut's point of view.VR Education
Apollo 11 VR
The Apollo 11 VR app puts viewers in Neil Armstrong's seat during the moon landing of Apollo 11 in 1969, and even take a walk along the Moon's surface. There is archival footage woven into this virtual reality experience and it is designed to work with Oculus Rift, and Oculus Rift S.