CANTON, GA. AUGUST 04, 2015
Students at a middle school in Georgia’s Cherokee County are gaining a deeper understanding of science than ever before. They are the first in the state to use zSpace, an immersive, virtual reality technology that allows students to learn STEM subjects using 3D, virtual-holographic images that they can move and manipulate. Already installed in one school, the program will expand to one of the district’s high schools for the 2015-16 school year.
Last year, nearly 1,000 students at Teasley Middle School, a Title I school (school with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families) completed their first school year using zSpace as a supplement to their science curriculum.
“When we moved Teasley to a brand new building last year, it was a great opportunity to incorporate the latest technology,” said Bobby Blount, assistant superintendent at Cherokee County School District. “I had been looking for something that would be more engaging for our students and a more inspiring and exciting tool for our teachers to use in science and math content delivery.”
At Teasley, 14 zSpace virtual reality stations are set up as a zSpace STEM lab in a room the school has named the “Virtual Vortex.” Each zSpace station accommodates two to three students. One student lifts, turns or takes apart virtual-holographic objects using an interactive stylus. The other students make observations and record data. All three students wear custom 3D glasses to create a communal virtual reality experience, unlike solo virtual reality technologies like Oculus Rift. In addition, students can watch the teacher or another student demonstrate their work on a SMART LED panel visible to the entire class.
Students from all levels, backgrounds
Leah Bleisath, the science department chair at Teasley, noted that hands-on technology like zSpace plays a key role in the level of understanding for her students, who run the gamut from advanced learners to students with special needs. Other students have emotional-behavioral issues or are just learning English. She said that they all flourish when learning with zSpace.
“zSpace appeals to all types of student needs,” said Bleisath. “One student told me he loved to take things apart in zSpace and not get in trouble for it. I’ve seen students with limited English gain confidence. It gets them excited about school, and increases their chances of going to the next level.”
Every student at Teasley rotates through the zSpace lab at some point in science class. Software includes Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards based lesson plans in life science, earth science, engineering and physics. Students can learn about everything from circuits to cells.
Bleisath found that teaching with zSpace requires a different structure than a traditional science class.
“When kids use zSpace, they just take off,” she said. “They talk to each other and love to figure things out. I had to change my mindset to be more of a facilitator than a lecturer, and I’m helping other teachers do the same.”
In fall, students at Woodstock High School in Woodstock, Georgia will begin working in a new zSpace lab as part of the school’s journey to becoming a state-certified STEM school. Blount and other administrators at Woodstock are looking forward to students’ reactions.
“Students from all levels and backgrounds deserve to work with the latest technology. As zSpace continues to develop its product, I’ll continue to look for funding to pay for it,” said Blount. “It encourages collaboration, teamwork, reinforces good communication, and at same time students are learning science.”
Originally published on PRWeb