Schools in some Florida districts are experimenting with new virtual reality labs

Wearing 3D glasses and sitting in front of oversized computers, the Everglades Elementary students used a pen-like tool to “grab” a model of the earth on their screens and pull it closer and closer until it seemed to leap out at them.

“Oh my goodness!” cried the thrilled third-graders at the West Palm Beach school.

It was their first time immersed in virtual reality, technology that’s just beginning to be used as a learning tool in South Florida classrooms. A few dozen schools from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach County are in the early stages of implementing it into their curriculum.

Developed in 2013 by a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company called zSpace, the computers and glasses can transport students to Washington, D.C. to check out monuments or to the inside of a human heart. It can be used to simulate dissecting animals or peeling back the layers of the earth.

Next page: How students in different programs are using zSpace

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