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Making virtual career options a reality at Strathaven Academy

By Ann-Marie Corvin 

Whatever career paths they choose to follow, technology is going to play a big part in most pupils’ futures, so for Carol Ann O’Connell, a biology teacher who led the Google Expeditions tour on its session at Strathaven Academy, it was important that all year groups engaged in the experience.

Carol, who is also a coordinator for the Scottish online learning resource Glow, adds: ‘My brother uses VR to design ships on the Clyde to help spot potential design issues. Companies are dipping their toe in the water with these technologies so it’s really important that children get to experience them.’

As well as giving the Lanarkshire pupils the opportunity to experience a technology that might play an important role in their future, the school was also keen to use Google’s visit to inspire future career paths.

In music, the department went on a virtual trip to Louisiana to discover more about the origins of Jazz and Blues. ‘Once the pupils were immersed in this environment they really got to see how musicians are influenced by their surroundings,’ Carol adds.

However, it was the trips to the moon garnered the most ‘Wows’.

‘I’d just wait for that moment where the pupils turn around and see the Earth because they are just in total awe.

These moon explorations may well yet inspire a new generation of Scottish astronauts, although Carol hopes that it might also encourage some of them to become teachers.

Having the physics teachers lead the pupils around the Kennedy Space Centre and on the trips to the moon made the pupils see them in a new light.

Our Geography teacher knew Iceland very well and punctuated this tour with anecdotes based on their own experiences and knowledge.

It’s stuff that doesn’t always come up naturally in a school environment, but the tours brought out a deeper knowledge of a teacher’s subject and really made the children appreciate them as experts in their field.’

The business studies department took a tour around Google’s HQ, to look at what’s involved in running a technology company and other careers expeditions include chef, vet, app developer and product engineer.

The Google Expeditions Pioneer Programme is free to all schools and can be tailored across all year groups. Places are limited though, so Google is encouraging schools to sign up as soon as they can.