Let’s suppose your kids like learning about planets and space. How would you like it if they had a chance to go on a field trip to Mars?
Chances are you would think that the idea is crazy. No one’s ever been to the Red Planet because, well, it’s extremely inhospitable to life. But the idea of seeing otherworldly landscapes and being a part of the human’s first step into the unknown would get your kids excited about learning, for sure.
If only there were a way they could do it… You know, without all the risks involved, and have the time of their lives…
Well, a bunch of school kids from Washington D.C. had already taken such a trip. The result was an experience that had the kinds super excited and happy, to say the least.
Wondering how they transformed an ordinary school bus into a Mars shuttle? Then keep reading. We’ll also take a look at three additional examples of super creative applications of virtual reality in education.
1. Virtual Field Trips: A Mars Field Trip
The key to making the Red Planet appear in the windows of an ordinary school bus is, of course, virtual reality. The folks at Lockheed Martin have replaced the bus’ windows with transparent 4K displays and switchable glass film. This way they eliminated the need for VR glasses, and created a group immersive experience.
To ensure that the experience feels as real as possible, they mapped the streets of Washington DC onto the virtual surface of Mars so the bus could go anywhere in the city. Added with the surround sound system playing the sounds of Martian wind inside the bus, the whole ride got as close as possible to being on a real field trip to the Red Planet.
Lockheed Martin’s educational subsidiary, Generation Beyond, was behind the project. Their website is a treasure trove for educators looking to get high school and middle school students excited about space exploration and science. For example, they can download lesson plans, curricula, video challenges, family activities, interactive space flight experience tools, and many other helpful materials for free.
2. Museum Experiences with the Best Guides in the World
If virtual reality allows us to get to places like Mars, touring Earth-based museums is a piece of cake. For example, the technology can help educators to increase engagement in art and history classes by having the students visit some of the world’s best museums without leaving the class.
A company called Boulevard is one of the pioneers in this. Thanks to their virtual reality technology, users can tour famous museums, interact with and learn more about works of art.
On top of that, the experiences are often guided by well-known curators, authors, and artists; it doesn’t get better than that. As a result, teachers can increase student engagement and contribute to their sense of scientific discovery thanks to interactive functionality.
3. Virtual Lab Environment to Conduct STEM Classes
Having a virtual lab to ensure a safe and interactive environment for students to learn STEM subjects is certainly a great tool to possess. With companies like Labster VR, this becomes possible. Labster VR already provides more than 100 types of virtual labs for schools and universities, and the experience is great.
For example, in the Exercise Physiology Simulation, students can participate in a clinical trial to investigate “the acute and chronic physiological effects of high-intensity interval training (SIT) on a sedentary lifestyle.”
“By engaging in virtual lab environments like these, students can practice their skills by performing experiments and tests, all in a risk-free environment,” says Martha Ross, an educational researcher at Supreme Dissertations. “This makes it easier to learn from mistakes and thus develop laboratory skills faster.”
4. Taking a Look Inside a Human Brain to Learn Chemistry
Virtual reality is an excellent tool to learn about inaccessible processes. For example, human chemistry is one of the most interesting areas to study. One example that shows how fun and effective VR can be to learn about humans is inMind2, a game designed to help students learn the chemistry behind human emotion.
Each student participating in the game becomes an active investigator of how a teenager John becomes an adult, and how human chemistry shapes John’s self.
The developers of the game provide the learners with a number of possible life paths and destinies. To determine which one of them John ultimately reaches, they need to control his emotions in specifically designed situations and scenarios. Each decision shapes a specific future of the character as an adult.
VR Takes Learning to a Whole Other Level
Gone are the days when VR technology was perceived as something created solely for games and entertainment. By providing that awesome element of interactivity, virtual reality has become a legitimate innovative tool to improve learning outcomes of students. The examples above are just some of the situations where the technology makes a difference in the classroom.Guest Post