Delhi students will sample virtual reality

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 An effort to engage students in cutting-edge technology will be coming to Delaware Academy Central School at Delhi next month, a school official said on Monday.

The zSpace virtual reality classroom tour will be at the school from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 8, said Superintendent Jason Thomson. It brings a trailer full of computer units that give students virtual and augmented reality experiences in a number of curriculum fields, working in 3D, he said.

During the visit, the mobile classroom outside the high school entrance will be used by biology and elementary school classes “to measure the engagement of students and teachers,” Thomson said. That will be important in deciding whether the technology is worth pursuing, he said

The school is considering zSpace and several other companies as it looks to keep students involved and interested by learning with new technology, he said.

For example, in a biology class, it could involve a virtual reality dissection of the heart, Thomson said. In a history class, it could allow students to examine historic structures from a unique perspective.

It ties into all the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) fields, Thomson said.

The technology can be used at all age levels.

Thomson had an opportunity, with board of education member Lucy Kelly, to experience the technology at the recent New York State School Boards Association convention.

“We felt we should bring this back for students and teachers,” Thomson said. It’s an opportunity to investigate new ways to keep the curriculum “engaging and up-to-date,” he said.

Kelly agreed that it offers students a unique experience. For example, in the biology lessons, it provides students an opportunity to get involved with procedures like dissections without the qualms they may have with real specimens, she said.

However the school decides to pursue the technology, through the visit of the mobile classroom, “they will be more aware of what is out there,” she said.

Mark Boshnack can be reached at mboshnack@thedailystar.com or (607) 432-1000 ext. 218. Also follow him at Twitter at @DS_MarkB.