PenPal Schools VR Field Trip to the USA
short description
PenPal Schools connects students from around the world to learn together. This project will connect students in the US and abroad through VR
Which focus area(s) does this proposed app address?
How will your app make an impact?
This project will make an impact both locally in Austin as well as in schools around the world.

Both local and international students will develop important skills through this project, including reading, writing, social & emotional skills, and digital literacy. This project will include high quality lessons proven to promote positive learning outcomes. This project (like all) will be aligned to academic standards. Details at

Students in Austin will serve as cultural ambassadors. They will represent our local community while also learning about other communities abroad.

This project will enable students from around the world, many of whom will never get the chance to visit the USA, to experience this country through virtual reality. Through the PenPal Schools app, they will not only learn about the USA through online lessons using virtual reality, they will also form personal collaborative connections with students American students.

A similar project, VR Field Trip to Pakistan, has already been very successful with over 2,500 participants in 14 countries:
Why is your app next-generation?
Low latency, high bandwidth technology helps to ensure that students and teachers have positive learning experiences. These technologies help to ensure that students can stream 360 video and load the PenPal Schools web app to access lessons and communicate with their PenPals.
Tell us about your superhero team.
Our team is the same team the delivered the successful VR Field Trip to Pakistan:

Joe Troyen, PenPal Schools Founder and CEO: I will design the project strategy and objectives and manage the deliverables

Mark Danforth, PenPal Schools Chief Learning Officer: Mark will design and create the lessons and supplemental instructional materials

Rick Holm, CEO of Chocolate Milk and Donuts: Rick Holm is an experienced 360 Video designer and producer who will capture and produce 360 video content

Jessica Altounian, PenPal Schools Community Manager: Jessica will provide all customer support and outreach to partner schools to ensure community buy-in

Miguel Vazquez and Frank Gonzalez, PenPal Schools software engineers, will provide technical support as needed (minimal because the product is already live and supports VR).
Accessibility and Inclusion
PenPal Schools is designed to work in schools with limited budgets and access to technology.

PenPal Schools is free. The VR Field Trip to the USA will be 100% free.

The PenPal Schools web app can be accessed through any internet connected device. It is mobile responsive for those accessing through cell phone.

This picture of one of our classrooms in rural Ghana demonstrates how well PenPal Schools works in low-income situations:
If your team wins, what will the prize money be used for?
The majority of the prize money will be used for 360 film production, including:
- Filming provided by Chocolate Milk and Donuts (contractor)
- Post-production provided by Chocolate Milk and Donuts (contractor)
- Travel expenses for filming

In addition, a small amount of prize money will be allocated for marketing and customer support. We don't need to spend a lot of money to make teachers aware of this opportunity because we have a highly engaged userbase of over 10,000 teachers in 170 countries.
Optional: Please share any relevant documents about your app concept.
PenPal Schools Overview Presentation.pdf

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