News Post

Honey, I shrunk the students
Honey, I shrunk the students
ndeutschmann

New this year at Aquinas are two virtual reality (VR) systems that immerse students in a three-dimensional world. "We're trying to give the student many opportunities to refine their knowledge in science," she said. "We can impress the facts on them a different way."


Ally Columbus pulled a heart and ribs out of a pig carcass, without donning latex gloves or smelling formaldehyde.

Matt Jahnes, a fellow student at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, shrank so small that he could stand on a mushroom cap.

And Catherine Brinis and Leo Bonifanti peeled away a man's skin, muscles and nervous system to reveal his skeleton.

That and more is made possible by strides in digital imagery, technology that is now reaching high schools like Aquinas. Teachers, students and administrators alike say it boosts learning and encourages exploration in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

"More real, more easy to learn," was the quick summation of science teacher Beth McTighe. She said the technology complements the usual books and lectures in several fields — anatomy, biology, physics, even math.

For Erin Williams, STEM coordinator at the school, the technology reinforces the textbook materials.

"We're trying to give the student many opportunities to refine their knowledge in science," she said. "We can impress the facts on them a different way."

New this year at Aquinas are two virtual reality (VR) systems that immerse students in a three-dimensional world. When they slide a visor over their eyes, they see a vivid computer-generated world all around them. Using hand-held controllers, they can move around in it, hold objects, even change their own relative size.

During a recent introduction of the devices, Jahnes appeared to shrink small enough to wander in a forest of towering mushrooms. He gestured with a controller, and a mushroom opened, with pop-up labels naming each part. A 75-inch monitor on a wall showed other students what he was seeing.

On the other VR system, a technician loaded a pig dissection lesson for senior Ally Columbus. Using the controllers, she made an incision and pried it open. Then she reached inside and extracted the heart and several ribs.

READ MORE... courtesy of Jim Davis for the Florida Catholic.