A Virtual World

The ear-shattering drumbeat of industrial war surrounds you.

Earthen walls shake and crumble, forcing you to crouch down to keep from being crushed as bombs and bodies burn in line, scattered across the surface. You pick up your service rifle and prepare to fight back, before a blinding light floods your vision as the earthen walls of your trench cave in, fading everything to a grisly black as you meet your final demise. But suddenly the blackness falls away, giving way to a beautiful blue sky. Green grass lines brick paths and cheery people stroll around from building to brightly-colored building. Blinking lights and the sounds of joy surround you. You look down to find a baseball in your hand. A man resembling a ringleader beckons you towards a precariously balanced stack of milk bottles, prompting you to take your shot to knock ‘em all over. You throw the ball with all your might, as it makes contact with the stack of bottles, they instantly shatter. Suddenly, the busy noise of carnival games falls away as the entire scene before you shatters as well, revealing a dark, eerie chamber in which you freely float. Floating above your head are behemothic structures, majestically swimming through the cytoplasm. You think you recognize a few of the unique shapes before an indifferent, robotic voice suddenly invades your ears. “The nucleus of the animal cell,” of course!

 

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Joey Cerise ’23 uses the VR rig in Mrs. McCormick’s Science class.

 

The final layer of this myriad of worlds falls away once you remove the Oculus Rift® virtual reality headset. These were just a few of the thousands of possible experiences and learning opportunities opened up by the Oculus Rift® virtual reality system. Academy at the Lakes’ history and science departments are currently cooperatively engaged as the vanguard of modern learning techniques, with the project being spearheaded by Ms. Mahoney, Mrs. Rodowsky, and Mrs. McCormick. This new technology recently arrived late last year and is currently in the beginning stages of being applied to open up numerous opportunities to make learning more interactive for our students and change the way we learn.

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The Oculus Rift® virtual reality headset allows the user to explore strange new worlds. It opens up an entirely new form of experience for education.

Presently, there is a small selection of virtual reality experiences geared towards our world history and biology courses: a WWI barracks, D-Day paratroopers, virtual dissection, and an intracellular biological experience. An interview was conducted with Ms. Mahoney, who expressed her enthusiasm about the project as a whole.

“[Virtual reality] is going to make the things that are harder to learn easier. Its presence in the classroom will entirely change the way I teach.”

The Oculus Rift will allow for students to experience things that could never before be done; things that are best learned through hands-on learning. It brings a whole new layer to the learning experience at Academy, and we are all very excited to see how this may be applied to our current school curriculum.

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WALK THE DINOSAUR. Using the simple Google Cardboard VR system and a smartphone can open the door to experiencing VR easily. The view above shows how a free VR game, Jurrasic VR, uses a smartphone to display a double view that seen through VR goggles, gives an immersive, 360-degree experience to the wearer.

 

Want to learn more about the Oculus Rift? You can check out their website here.

Are YOU excited to experience virtual reality learning? Share your opinion in the comment section below!

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