A womb with a view
Because there’s no better way to learn about a place than to go there, Google Expeditions is able to take pupils on journeys that would otherwise be impossible – from outer space to the inner workings of the human heart
For Lauren Van Den Kerkhof, a physics teacher at Bishop Barrington School in County Durham, taking her year 8 and year 10 pupils on a complete journey through pregnancy - from fertilisation through to birth - was an invaluable experience.
‘You would expect some of the pupils to be a bit squeamish but they were all really intrigued,’ Lauren recalls. ‘It held their attention because you really get to feel like you’re inside the womb as you experience the baby’s development.
Image: Google/Vida Systems. The Expedition conveys a sense of scale at different stages of the baby's development
According to Lauren, the accompanying annotations that the teacher (or Guide) is able to access on the tablet during the Expedition also helped to convey the sense of scale. For example, as pupils immersed themselves in the journey through the second trimester, the baby is described as growing ‘from the length of a peapod to the size of a cauliflower.’
‘Pupils wanted to have their own time to explore this amazing environment’
The pupils worked in pairs on the Expedition, with one using the viewer while the other talked over what they had seen with the teacher. There are several conversation points suggested during the journey, covering why babies might get hiccups during the fifth month of pregnancy to what happens to the placenta after the baby is born.
Image:Bishop Barrington School. Pupils worked in pairs on the Expedition
'While I talked for a while about the different stages as we went through the Expedition, I was aware that the pupils also wanted to have their own time to explore this amazing environment, so by working in these pairs we were able to strike the right balance while ensuring that everyone got to have a go,’ Lauren explains.
Image: Google/Vida Systems. The journey gave pupils a 'rounded picture' of what happens during pregnancy
‘On the curriculum, I don’t think you get enough of a chance to go into much detail about the trimesters,’ she says, telling us that going on the journey gave the pupils a much more rounded picture of what pregnancy involves.
‘We generally cover fertilisation, and when the baby is born, as well as factors that affect pregnancy, such as smoking, but nothing that takes you through all these different stages. The pregnancy Expedition increases their depth of knowledge - to see physically the size of the foetus from within gives pupils a better understanding of what external factors might affect them.’