Virtual reality labs helping students explore, learn in Utica Community Schools

(WXYZ) - As new technology continues to emerge in our everyday lives, it’s also making its way into the classroom.

The special learning experiences are helping students get a head start on future career possibilities. 

"I want to become an electrical engineer now, because I see there's so many components to all of these robotic things and it's very cool to pull them apart," said Ebeling Elementary sixth grader Tyler Anderson. 

Utica Community Schools is one of the districts in Michigan that has incorporated virtual reality labs into the curriculum. Three of the schools in the district currently have the labs. 

Ebeling Elementary Principal Denise Bailey and Anderson stopped by Broadcast House this morning to talk about how the labs are helping to enrich education. 

Bailey says the elementary school has 15 virtual reality computers that kids use with stylus pens and special 3D glasses. 

"We mainly use it for science, but...there are other applications, social studies and art. For science for example, one of the great applications is to do some virtual experimenting so it allows the students to manipulate variables on screen," said Bailey.

One of the possibilities, she says, is for the students to virtually change the pH levels in a pond and see the effect from the plants to the animal life.

Programs that allow the students to dissect objects are also a hit. 

"I once took apart a heart and you can't usually do that in a textbook...it was so cool because there are so many components that you see on the inside, but you don't see all of that on the outside," said Anderson. 

Bailey says the students are able to make connections in the real world by exploring the virtual one. 

"They can take apart planets and see what goes all the way through from the mantle to the core. They can also do some robotic engineering, taking apart electrical components...there are a lot of other applications, 3D building, architecture, things like that," she said. 

 

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