Elementary students explore learning through VR

PORTSMOUTH– Students at Portsmouth Elementary School are taking a field trip to the swamps and mastering floating geometric shapes thanks to new virtual reality technology in the classrooms. The school introduced new VR technology this year in Regina Flinders’ 5th-grade math and Megan McGraw’s 5th-grade science classrooms.

“We’re doing life science right now, so we’re learning about habitats and ecosystems of living and non-living things. So the students will go through a pond ecosystem, and they had to tell us what animals they see and whether it’s a producer, consumer or decomposer, or is an herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore and what can it eat. They get to walk around the pond and swim through the water and look at fish and lizards,” McGraw said.

In Flinder’s math class, students can create 3-D objects in TinkerCAD software on the computer, interact with them in virtual reality, and then 3-D print them.

“We are studying surface volume and the volume of cubes, and they can still see through the goggles, but now there are virtual cubes in front of them that they can turn and measure. We’ve done estimation with some of the programs, and we’re getting ready to do geometry,” Flinders said.

The teachers spent an entire day after Winter Break learning how to use the new technology, and they’ve been using it for a couple of weeks in the classroom.

Flinders said the students are very comfortable with this technology and they have adapted quickly. But even still, the teachers sometimes they get a big laugh watching the students react to their virtual environments.

“In one of the programs they were on the back of a boat, and they had jumped off the boat, and as I was watching their reaction they all would bob their heads just before they hit the water as if they were jumping into a real pond,” Flinders joked.

For more information about Portsmouth City Schools, visit them online at www.portsmouthtrojans.net