Cardboard isn’t just for playing games: Google also uses it in its Expeditions program to bring free virtual field trips to classrooms. On Wednesday, the company announced that it’s expanding the program and rolling out two new Expeditions episodes, including a virtual tour of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, and London’s Buckingham Palace.
Google’s Cardboard Expeditions are designed to take kids—and their teachers—to virtual, far away lands. There are more than 100 expeditions available, including tours of famous museums and virtual walkthroughs of space. Current trips include places like the aforementioned, as well as Mars, Machu Picchu, and the Grand Canyon.
The virtual tours are available to classrooms that are already a part of the Expeditions Pioneer Program. If you’re an educator or student interested in the program, you can sign up to get involved. If you’re interested in experiencing the virtual reality field trips and you’re not an educator, you can find some of the tours via YouTube 360. Tours like the Buckingham Palace’s Expedition also live on the their respective YouTube pages.
The story behind the story: Google’s been incrementally expanding its Expeditions program since it announced it at last year’s I/O developer conference. The hardware units, which included Asus smartphones and a tablet for the teacher, plus a router to connect all the devices and run the Expedition applications offline, began shipping in September 2015.
At present, the Expedition program has more than 500,000 students using it worldwide. It’s not only an amazing excuse for VR’s existence, but a way to travel and see parts of the world you may never get to see in person. And with floundering school budgets, this free virtual reality program can help bring the wonder of wanderlust to kids all over the world.