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How to lead your own Expedition

Send your class into the depths of the Borneon rainforests by following a few simple steps

Thinking about leading your own Expedition? From the favelas in Brazil to Bletchley Park circa 1941, we look at what schools have planned for their next trips, as well as some of the steps needed to take you there. For further help along the way you can also visit Google's Help Centre.

The kit

The essentials are smartphones or tablets for your students  (either IOS or Android enabled), VR viewers (be sure to purchase official  Google Cardboard viewers, a tablet for the teacher and a router (note you just need a local peer-to-peer network and not actual  ensure reliable Wi-Fi connection). If you’re thinking of investing in your own Expeditions kit you can purchase an approved Google Expeditions kit from Redbox VR.

Google Cardboard headsets retail for around £6 on sites such as Amazon

Setting up

Before you can lead an Expedition you’ll need to install the Google Expeditions app on your classroom devices. Guides (teachers) and Explorers (pupils) use the same app but there must always be a Guide to lead an Expedition and Exploreres can't go on an Expedition without a Guide. For more information read our Teacher's Guide blog.

Creating a network

The next step is to make sure you have a local peer-to-peer network. While you need an internet connection to install the app or download an individual Expedition, you only need a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi network to lead one. If your school doesn't have  peer-to-peer connections are not allowed, then you can use a router to create a new network, or use an Android or iOS phone to create a hotspot (here’s how).

Image from the Google Expedition, Life Under Matriarchs 

Downloading an Expedition

There are now over 600 Expeditions for the Guide to choose from. Pupils can climb Mount Everest or find out more about efforts to beat the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. For younger explorers, there’s even an opportunity to follow Santa and find out more about his workshop in the North Pole.
You can search for topics via the search button in the top right corner of the screen. While this allows the user to do a wordsearch, you can also find the subjects you want to explore by searching under 12 suggested categories. Once you have found the Expedition you want, it usually takes less than a minute to download.

‘A trip into a favela provides the opportunity for students to experience quite how different urban life is in a megacity such as Rio.’
Julian Carrera, Geography teacher


Favela: image from the Brazil’s World Cup, Stadiums and Streets Expedition

The next level

Some of the schools we’ve interviewed are now looking at how they can take things to the next level. For its first trip, Watford Grammar School for Boys used Expeditions to explore and identify different features of volcanoes. Now Julian Carrera, Geography teacher and head of Year 8, is teaching his students about World Cities and his thoughts are focused on how he can give his class a sense of what it’s like to live in different communities. 

He says, ‘A trip into a favela provides the opportunity for students to experience quite how different urban life is in a megacity such as Rio.
‘This sort of experience could cover issues such as urban problems, improvement, quality of life, urban management and empathy for children in a radically different urban setting.’
According to Julian, the school’s next foray into VR is likely to involve more than one department.

While the initial Google visit was set up as a Geography day – his colleagues in the Classics and Religious Studies department immediately saw how a visit to sites relevant to them would give students more of a ‘feel’ for the environments they’re studying.

And Expeditions don’t necessarily have to take place in lesson time. For his after school Stemettes group, David Joyce, head of science at Basildon Lower Academy is running the Expedition Code Breakers: Secret War, which challenges his students to descramble the German ciphers created by the Enigma machine as they time hop to 1941 and shadow Christine, a new recruit to Bletchley Park, who is working as a translator during the Second World War.

Expeditions featured in and related to this blog:

  • Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Brazil’s World Cup, Stadiums and Streets
  • Expedition Code Breakers: Secret War
  • History of Computing
  • Borneo Rainforest, Plant Adaptations (main pic)
  • Santa’s Journey
  • Life Under Matriarchs
  • Ebola virus in Sierra Leone.
  • Mount Everest