Visit Mars, swim with sea otters and trek to Mt. Everest's Base Camp.
Parents and teachers eager to weave some fun into learning, might consider using virtual reality (VR) apps to deliver some educational lessons through a method that feels like play. Big brands from Discovery to the BBC are building VR content for high end devices like Oculus Go to free Google Cardboard-like headsets. Here are seven apps, some that are free, that can get students started no matter their grade in school.
Victory VR's Adventure in Space is just one of several science experiences, some of which align with Next Generation Science Standards
© Victory VR
Victory VR: Adventures in Space
Victory VR is known for its science curriculum which is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. Its suite of science VR experiences including 48 VR field trips and 96 VR stories that include comics to virtual journeys students can take while still at school or home. Their high school program, "Adventures in Space: Black Holes and Beyond" is now free for anyone with an Oculus Rift or Windows Mixed Reality Headset.
BBC Earth lets you explore the Pacific Ocean wildlife from the water.
© BBC Earth
BBC Earth: Life in VR
This extraordinary underwater experience takes students through a unique dive along the California Coast, where they follow a sea otter into the Pacific Ocean. Students can also explore zooplankton — microscopic animals consumed by the smallest of ocean creatures — and even shrink down to their size. The BBC Earth: Life in VR app works on Google Daydream devices, like the new Lenovo Mirage Solo
The free Google Expeditions app can let you trek Base Camp at Mt. Everest while in the classt
© Google Expeditions
This free Google Expeditions Android and iOS app is a virtual field trip slip — taking students through virtual settings on a Google Cardboard viewer. Teachers or parents can connect multiple devices together, and then act as a guide walking the students through Base Camp at Mt. Everest or even the Taj Mahal.
The Unimersiv VR app takes you to Mars with the Curiosity Rover
© Unimersiv VR
Unimersiv VR app
Unimersiv is in the business of educational experiences — whether that's for school children or training company workers on a new skillset. Their app works on both Samsung Gear VR and the Oculus Rift, and their experiences can take you underwater to explore the Titanic, to Mars where you roll with the Curiosity Rover. Experiences vary in price. The "Mars: Curiosity Rover," which also includes a VR documentary, for example, is $4.99.
Up close with tigers? The Discovery VR app brings these animals and other wildlife up close.
© Discovery VR
The Discovery VR app puts you into the hands of Discovery's expertise on documentary content. The app works on nearly every single VR platform: Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard viewers using both iOS and Android devices. Did we mention its free? Once installed, you, your child or your students can peek at elephants in South Africa to Whale Sharks off the coast of Mexico. Some of the experiences are produced in partnership with groups including the World Wide Fund for Nature. Do we really need to say anymore?
Let your students hold a human brain in their hand with the Merge Cube
© Merge Cube
Merge Cube is a $15 foam block that turns into nearly anything you can imagine, when viewed through its VR app. Working with Google Cardboard headsets, the app can transform the cube into our solar system, a dinosaur and even a human brain. Some apps are free, others, like the Anatomy AR+ are just $.99 to buy.
Apollo 11 VR lets you experience the 1969 moon landing from the astronaut's point of view.
© VR Education
VR Education: Apollo 11 VR
This app puts viewers in Neil Armstrong's seat during the moon landing of Apollo 11 from 1969. The Apollo 11 VR app has been around since 2016, and is designed to work with HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR. The app also works with the recently launched Oculus Go.