Google Expedition Virtual Reality – Parti Gras Paddle Raise

Gone are the old days of just looking at boring pictures in a book – that is so 1980’s!  What better way to learn about the Egyptian pyramids, the Great Barrier Reef or the Taj Mahal than actually going there?  Google Expeditions takes our tech-savvy students of the 21st century beyond mere video clips to an immersive curricular experience.  The teacher acts as a guide and leads explorers using 360-degree and interactive 3D images while students wear special virtual reality goggles, allowing the students to be actively engaged in their learning rather than passively reading from a textbook or following a PowerPoint presentation.

For the past two years, Google Expeditions has been used in classrooms across the country to extend learning and help students experience the world in new ways. They can take over 700 virtual field trips all over the world, gain exposure to new career paths and learn about social impact initiatives happening around the globe.  Science teachers can bring cells to life in Inside A Cell, while counselors can help students visit colleges or go on career expeditions by walking in the footsteps of those that do the job.  Students can also be a part of history by walking the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail or be among those fighting for a woman’s right to vote in the Women’s Suffrage in the United States expedition.

Immersion virtual reality is the next frontier in education, and thanks to the generous donations made during the 2018 Parti Gras Paddle, SPEF was able to purchase virtual reality goggles for the students of South Pasadena!

SPEF Major Grants Awards: 2016-2017

Major Grants: Awards 2016-2017

In 2016-17, SPEF steered nearly $100,000 in major-grants funding to programs at all five of the district’s schools. Here are the funded projects:

Project Lead The Way Science Modules

To meet the state’s next generation science standards, SPUSD has been testing curriculum from the innovative non-profit Project Lead The Way with the help of funding from SPEF. The district will now be rolling out PLTW’s Launch modules to every elementary school teacher in the district thanks to a $39,572 grant from SPEF. In addition to covering the cost of teacher training and support, the grant will allow the district to purchase curriculum units for K through 5 that introduce students to foundational concepts in physics, biology, earth science, energy and robotics.


The Middle School FarmBot

Supported by a $32,000 grant from SPEF, South Pasadena Middle School teachers Rebecca Bertolina and Richard Archer will lead their culinary science and engineering classes on a joint project to design, build and maintain a FarmBot Greenhouse. FarmBot is a computer-controlled farming venture consisting of a linear robot farming machine installed atop a small garden, open-source software, and documentation including a farming data repository. The robot performs nearly the entire gardening process prior to harvesting, including planting the seeds, watering each plant precisely on a set schedule, monitoring conditions, and eradicating weeds.


The High School Auditorium Soundboard

The audio in the SPHS auditorium runs through a 15-year-old analog soundboard that has suffered several critical failures — the occasional channel drop-out and even full losses of power. Worse, the board has been out of production for eight years, making it hard to find replacement parts. In addition, it doesn’t have enough inputs to handle all the microphones needed for a full musical performance. Thanks to a grant of about $26,000 from SPEF, the high school will be purchasing a new digital Midas Pro 6 Live soundboard that is fully automated and controllable from anywhere in the building.