DAYS CREEK — Virtual and augmented reality will likely become a part of the Days Creek classroom next year, but students have already started using the new technology.
“The idea is that students and teachers get on here and get an understanding of how to us it and put it into the curriculum,” Steve Woods said Tuesday while showing the new systems. Woods is the superintendent of Douglas County School District 15, executive director of Days Creek Charter School and principal at Days Creek High School.
On March 1, the school received three zSpace computers with educational materials, 3D glasses and styluses.
With the new technology, students can not only see the images on the screen, but they can move objects forward, turn them around and, depending on the program, take things apart or move them out of the way. As you move your head, you can look around an object and teachers or students can follow along with special follower glasses.
“With the real-world capacities, it makes it look really super real,” Woods said.
Students can also work together on projects on the zSpace computers and do assessments through the programs.
The systems cost between $5,000-$7,000, which does not cover additional programs and annual licensing. The systems were funded partially by Measure 98 funds, which passed in 2016 and required state funding for dropout prevention and career and college readiness programs.
“It’s a lot cheaper than buying a cadaver or frogs,” Woods said about the investment.
Although zSpace will not be a class on its own, Woods’ hope is to incorporate it in certain classes to enhance the learning experience for students.
“It’s a way to engage students and bring them a new way to learn the material,” Woods said. “We use these as building blocks. We don’t want to go over the top, we’re just getting our feet wet.”
Days Creek sophomore Macs Whetzel said his teacher went over the respiratory system in class and he used the anatomy course on zSpace to take another look. “It’s good additional information,” Whetzel said.
Days Creek sixth grader Keegan Stufflebeam also enjoyed looking through the anatomy program. “You take the heart and I like where you take it apart,” he said.
zSpace will be used mainly for science, math and technology, although other courses can be taught as well.
Educational programs came loaded on the computers, but others can be added, and have content teachers can access to see how it will work with the classroom teachings.
There are 21 classes, including Newton’s Park, where students create their own experiments and build simulations; Franklin’s Lab, where students learn about electricity concepts; and Curie’s Elements, where students can build elements by adding protons, neutrons and electrons.
Programs will guide students through the classes and they will have to answer questions to continue to the next step in learning.
“It’s a different way to instruct,” Woods said. “It gets (students) involved with the learning process.”