Friday, February 17, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Perry school students get a taste of combining virtual reality with classroom lessons

posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, news, Perry, education, technology.

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zSpace, no, it’s not a place for naps, it’s an innovative mobile classroom that incorporates virtual reality into lesson plans and curriculum for elementary and high schools, universities and even medical schools.

On Thursday, students from kindergarten through 12th grade at Perry Central School District got a taste of learning through innovation. 

The kids donned glasses that are connected to a computer for interactive learning. In addition to the glasses, a stylus is used to access the material on the screen as if it were right in front of the user.

zSpace was developed about 10 years ago for the Department of Defense,” said Andrew Ziemba, PC University Distributors Inc.'s Upstate NY account manager. “Three years ago it was thought to be a good educational tool. It combines augmented reality and virtual reality to give teachers another tool for the classroom.”

zSpace is transforming education today, said Brittni Olson, of L. Wolfe Communications, a public relations firm for zSpace. Hundreds of thousands of students are using the technology in their classrooms and labs worldwide for STEM learning. STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – is a curriculum that integrates those four disciplines into a “cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.” 

Students can dissect organs, dive into volcanoes and more – all in a virtual-reality world. No headsets are required, just simple 3D glasses so students and teachers can work collaboratively.

“It would be pretty amazing,” said second-grade teacher Ruth Manchester, about having access to zSpace. “Kids can get exposure to things that may not have an opportunity to otherwise. This could broaden exposure to science and ideas we don’t have access to or aren't given funding for.” 

Students learn by trying and doing without the fear of breaking materials, spilling chemicals, making a wrong incision or blowing up a circuit -- medical students and doctors can even practice surgeries and organ dissections without the messiness of working on real cadavers, zSpace officials say.

“The excitement to learn anything they can that’s hands-on is fantastic,” said second-grade teacher Penny Moses.

And what did the students think of the experience?

“Awesome!”

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