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Local teacher will lead virtual reality project spotlighting local history

Local teacher will lead virtual reality project spotlighting local history

February 25th, 2018 by Jennifer Middleton in Texarkana News

Texarkana's rich history has been told in many different forms, but a local history teacher is taking it into the 21st century.

Dan Johnson, who teaches at Liberty-Eylau Middle School, will have equipment from Google for two weeks to film virtual reality expeditions in the area. He's in talks with city officials to tour Union Station, all the courthouses and possibly the Grim Hotel.

"The way I look at it, people all over the world can visit Texarkana but never have to come here," he said.

He first got the idea through Stormy Cullum, the district's technology integration specialist. She made him aware that Google was seeking applicants for the program.

"I thought, well, heck, it's free. Why not?" Johnson said.

He was later notified they would have the equipment March 13-28. When he was first looking into participating in the program, he said he was thinking they could do things just at the school level.

"We have a set of goggles and I thought we could use that to take fourth grades on a virtual tour of the middle school," Johnson said. "Then the history geek in me kicked in."

His plan is for his fifth-grade students to learn more about the town they're living in and tell those stories to the world.

"They'll be doing virtual reality, also doing research and telling everybody what they're looking at," he said.

Johnson is currently putting a plan together for those two weeks and is also accepting suggestions on other sites to record. Those ideas can be sent to dan.johnson@leisd.net.

"As far as suggestions, it doesn't have to be just history," he said. "I have seen expeditions that are science related, math related. Any of the core subjects, any education, I think it would be great.

"For me, there's not a limit on what we can do with it except time."

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