virtual reality

Virtual reality helps students build career skills

Immersive virtual reality solution uses a 3D approach to highlight STEAM lessons for students

High school student Anthony Torres didn’t set out to become a virtual reality mentor for his school, but his passion for 3D modeling and anatomy made him the leading expert at the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center (“the Met”), a network of six small public high schools in Providence and Newport, Rhode Island.

zSpace announced that the Met is the first school district in the state to use an immersive, virtual reality technology that allows students to learn STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) subjects using 3D, holographic images that they can move and manipulate. With more than 800 students, 68 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged, zSpace is helping students at explore careers in science, technology, medicine and even art before they even graduate high school.

“The learning process here is based on internships and individual learning plans,” said Arthur Eduardo Baraf, principal of the Met’s Liberty Building. “We have students who are working in hospitals using zSpace to do anatomical work like dissections, as well as students working at the Rhode Island Computer Museum who are using zSpace to practice what they learned there by making virtual circuit boards.”

Torres is combining his interest in both 3D virtual sculpture and anatomy to build a virtual nature library at the school. Inspired by a similar collection at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), he plans to model the skeletal structures of various animals using zSpace and print them using a 3D printer. With a program on zSpace called Leopoly, Torres can hold up and shape virtual objects in three dimensions, instead of manipulating them on a flat screen. He plans to create a collection of realistic animal models that students around the school can study or sketch.

While he is working on his own projects, Torres is also mentoring other students who are interested in using zSpace to do dive more deeply into other STEAM areas, either in groups or individually.

As more students from the school discover what they can do with zSpace, Principal Baraf is looking forward to expanding the use of zSpace.

“The word is spreading about zSpace. I’m getting inquiries from other schools in the district as well as some of our partners,” he said. “zSpace is simple, but once people see what they can achieve with it, they can accomplish incredible things.”

Laura Ascione

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