BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - 17 years ago Americans watched as a terrorist attack was carried out on the Twin Towers in New York City, where thousands of lives were lost.
The Now Bakersfield's Tori Cooper shadowed a local history class to watch as junior high students revisited the tragic day through a virtual reality experience from their classroom. Even though the Stonecreek Junior High students Cooper spoke to Tuesday were not alive during the September 11, attack they traveled back to New York City using virtual reality goggles and their history textbooks to get a feel for what it was really like on that day.
Stone creek students took a trip back in time Tuesday as they listened to the speech from former U.S. President speech George W. Bush gave following the September 11, attack, "Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror the pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief a terrible sadness and a quiet unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat," Bush said.
History teacher Dustin Maxey did his best to bring September 11, alive for his students who were not around during the time of terror, “And it's a day that we need to recognize those people, and let us never forget those people we should always remember," Maxey said.
However, now 17 years later his students like 7th grader Taylor Willman can better understand the gravity of what happened on that day that impacted innocent Americans and their families left behind, "It's just unbelievably sad," Willman said.
"246 boarded their morning flight, 2,606 people went to work up in the Twin Towers, 343 firefighters went to work that day in New York, 60 police officers and eight paramedics and all of those people they passed away that day," Maxey said.
Maxey instructed students to take notes on the primary and secondary sources that were used during the video. "The primary sources are an account of an event created by someone who took part in or witnessed an event," Willman said. Maxey used this exercise to help students understand how to interpret moments like September 11, from relevant historical sources like video footage, journals, pictures and more.
Maxey also wanted students to feel the magnitude of the aftermath, so he used virtual reality goggles to transport students from their classroom chairs to the 9/11 ground zero memorial for the first time with the help of the Google Expedition application. "It was cool being able to see the memorial and not actually have to go there, it felt like you were actually there and it felt like you could walk in it," Willman said.
Maxey's September 11, lesson plan stuck with students, "Be kind and respectful to all the people who lost their lives that day," Willman said. The memory of those lost also forever remembered, "None of us will ever forget this day yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world," Bush said.
Without a doubt the classroom had a somber emotion throughout the class session but Maxey made sure to ensure students that the U.S. government continues to go above and beyond to make sure a tragedy like this does not reoccur on U.S. soil.
If you would like to visit ground zero virtually like the Stonecreek history class just download the Google Expedition app on your iPhone or Android and search ground zero memorial.