Remember the days when the only purpose of a school bus was to transport kids from their neighborhoods to school and back again? Well, apparently those days are behind us, and buses are being used for all sorts of crazy things. Most recently: to house a STEAM lab at Summit Elementary School in the state of Mississippi.
zSpace, a California-based technology firm that specializes in virtual reality, equipped the buses with 3-D equipment to allow elementary kids to virtually dissect, interact with and learn about engineering, anatomy, geology and more.
These are the concepts that kids have been taught in school for generations. However, this new method of teaching through interactive VR systems raises new implications for children’s future careers. Will the early exposure of children to science and art through a lens of technology have an effect on what they go on to achieve in the STEAM field?
Donnisha Jackson, a second-grade teacher at Summit Elementary, explained the benefits of virtual STEAM learning. “We can introduce dissection to students younger, and they get a real life vision of it,” Jackson said. “It’s never too early to introduce a child to things, but it has to be age appropriate.”
The buses call themselves “STEAM labs” for a reason, though: through the use of a stylus, students can also draw and create their own diagrams, exercising their creativity as well as their ability to learn. According to A.P. Report, students can discover the inner workings of a volcano, explore outer space, take engines and airplanes apart and much more.
Between the two buses, there are 12 computer zSpace modules, each of which accommodates three children at a time. The children wear special 3-D glasses to experience a number of scientific concepts in full dimension. Kids have had the opportunity to visualize the human heart and learn about arteries and blood flow.
“Most of the kids have never seen a heart in its real form,” Jackson said. For many of Summit Elementary’s students, these school buses are the place where they discover that the human heart doesn’t look like the candy hearts they eat on Valentine’s Day.
To many members of older generations, virtual reality is still an enigma. But to kids, it already seems like second nature.
As we have personally discovered when kids use our Build Lab app, the technology comes like second nature to these digital natives. “They could probably teach me, after they started exploring it,” Jackson joked.
We’ve witnessed children as young as months old already navigating their way through an iPad, spinning their playscapes on the Build Lab and tapping on icons. The ability to view real-life objects, such as a child’s playscape or a deconstructed engine through 3D technology allows for a whole new way of thinking and building.
The future is bright for this generation of kids, who have exposure to revolutionary technology and education at an earlier age than any generation before them. To Summit Elementary and all the kids out there exploring their scientific sides we say: full STEAM ahead!