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Macedonia Middle students immersed in learning with zSpace AR/VR lab

Published Thursday, February 21, 2019

zspace lab photo

This photo was taken during a zSpace lab on animal adaptation on Wednesday, February 21, 2019. (BCSD photo)

Imagine a lesson involving the human heart during which students have the opportunity to dissect a heart and take a camera through its valves and ventricles. What about a science lesson on the layers of the earth during which students can visit the core of our planet, take samples and closely examine what’s found?  

It might seem impossible, but students at Macedonia Middle are having those types of experiences.

Funded by a grant from Google, the school was able to purchase several zSpace augmented reality/virtual reality lab units. With a library full of thousands of lessons relatable to every school subject, learning at Macedonia Middle is now more memorable, engaging and high-tech than it’s ever been.

“It’s not sitting at a desk and listening to a teacher stand up and lecture. They are owning their own learning,” said BCSD instructional technologist Lyndi Valicek.

While virtual reality is nothing new to Berkeley County classrooms, the experience provided by the zSpace AR/VR setup is much different and more hands-on. During a science lab assignment Wednesday, students went through a lesson on animal adaptations. They were able to dissect multiple animals, closely examine teeth, claws and fur. They were even able to measure various body parts. Such a lesson without the zSpace would have taken weeks, perhaps months of planning. Students would also be limited in how they could transition between tasks. Of course, there would also be some cleanup required.

Teachers at Macedonia Middle say the benefits of the zSpace AR/VR lab are endless. Instead of field trips to learn more about a subject, students can immerse themselves in an experience they are able to manipulate.

The learning experience has been so extraordinary that word quickly spread to H.E. Bonner Elementary across the street. Now teachers from that school also take classes to the lab.

“It’s helpful,” said BCSD instructional technologist Sloane Chinners. “You can’t go on a field trip to the core of the earth. “Being able to separate each layer gives them hands-on experience that would otherwise be impossible.”

Brian Troutman