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3D, virtual reality platform also promotes collaboration

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 01:00

zSpace for Education, a virtual reality provider, intends to give students an interactive and skill-building experience

According to a study by Burning Glass Technologies, in 2013 there were openings for nearly 6 million jobs in STEM fields. To help ensure that students are prepared with the skills to enter this growing workforce, zSpace has unveiled an expanded software offering for its all-in-one desktop virtual reality solution, zSpace for Education.

The streamlined hardware and software platforms allows students from K-12 to medical school an amazing opportunity to manipulate virtual, 3D objects ranging from building circuitry to experimenting with gravity and learn concepts in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Since 2012, more than 150,000 students across the United States and in a dozen countries across the globe are already exploring and learning with zSpace. This new software release includes more than 250 STEAM (science, technology, art and math) lesson plans and activities for K-12 educators to use with their students – in a virtual reality learning environment.

The lessons offer a realistic learning environment and a personalized learning experience, aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core and state standards. Virtual-holographic images can be “lifted” from the screen and manipulated with the stylus. Some applications provide multi-sensory feedback; for example, students working with a virtual heart can see it pumping, hear it, and feel it beating.

The first district in Georgia to offer its students the power of learning with virtual reality, Cherokee County Schools implemented zSpace at Teasley Middle School last school year, expanding to a high school for the 2015-16 school year.

At Teasley, the school’s nearly 1,000 students explore and learn with 14 virtual reality stations set up as a zSpace STEM lab in a room 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 students wear custom 3D glasses to create a communal virtual reality experience, unlike solo virtual reality technologies like Oculus Rift. Every student at Teasley rotates through the zSpace lab at some point in science class.

This fall, students at the district’s Woodstock High School also began working in a new zSpace lab as part of the school’s journey to becoming a state-certified STEM school. Acknowledging the ways that zSpace engages his district’s learners and helps build 21st century skills, District Superintendent Bobby Blount said, “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. It encourages collaboration, teamwork, reinforces good communication, and at same time students are learning science.”

In addition to a new intuitive menu system, the zSpace Studio gallery of lesson plans and activities boasts a library of more than 700 models and tools. Most recently, zSpace partnered with Leopoly, a 3D content provider and modeling platform that takes zSpace’s STEM offering to STEAM – allowing students to experiment, prototype, and innovate with art and design and send their creations to a 3D printer.

A zSpace lab in a typical school includes one student virtual reality station for every two students and a teacher station, each outfitted with an tracking eyewear and an interactive stylus. For a video demonstration, click here.

Material from a press release was used in this report.