Tarri Gauck’s approach when dealing with students – being as authentic as possible, fostering an enjoyable learning atmosphere and demonstrating a strong work ethic – has remained the same since she began her teaching career 21 years ago. She is currently employed as a fourth-grade science and world study teacher at West Salem Elementary School.
Jeremy Johnson, a father to one of Tarri’s pupils, approached her several weeks ago regarding an opportunity for students to use virtual reality goggles to learn about the universe.
“There really isn’t a limit to the places we can take the kids. Currently teaching the Solar System to my fourth-grade science students, I jumped at the chance to tour them through the universe,” Gauck said. “I offered the opportunity to fourth-grade teachers across the City of Salem when we were in a joint meeting. Two other schools asked me to share this great technology.”
Added Gauck: “My principal, Mrs. Debbie Carroll, and Assistant Principal Mrs. Amanda Gibson were thrilled to try this technology out. Our Superintendent, Dr. Alan Seibert, tried out the virtual reality goggles one day in my classroom. He was also very supportive of this grand adventure for the kids.”
As the state leader for Virginia 4-H, an affirmative youth development program of Virginia Cooperative Extension in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Jeremy Johnson helps provide young people with an opportunity to develop life skills that will prepare them for the future.
“Google Expedition experiences allow students to fully engage with the content in which they are studying. This immersive environment creates a learning context that often can be achieved in the traditional classroom. This particular group participated in an experience exploring the Solar System,” Johnson said. “Students were able to visualize much of the content of the Virginia SOL for Solar Systems in a way they couldn’t by textbooks or videos alone.”
In addition to exploring the Milky Way Galaxy, Tarri wanted Salem students to learn facts about other planets and go through an immersive 3D environmental tour of the Solar System.
“It is my responsibility as an educator to expose students to as much technology as possible. The world is becoming defined by its rapidly changing technology,” she said. “Kindergarten students are doing coding exercises, third, fourth and fifth-graders are being taught keyboarding and Salem students are carrying their Chromebooks from class to class now.”