A few days ago we had the opportunity to meet with Mrs.Kelley, and we are happy to have the opportunity to perform our research alongside her instruction. Mrs.Kelley is an educator at North Penn High School teaching various subject matter. Our research aligns with her Emergency Care and Anatomy courses, which have gaping potential in VR. Our simulation will be focused on wounds and wound maintenance. Currently we are sketching rough outlines of scenarios within our simulation, concurrently designing our simulation within Unreal Engine 4. There are lots of moving parts to the achievement of our goal. Creating a simulated reality from scratch using a computer is exceedingly difficult.
Mrs.Kelley also provided us with some materials including a chest full of fake wounds. We can 3D scan these to avoid the meticulous detail of designing each and every part within our simulation from scratch.
Yesterday, H003 was packed. Occupying the capacity of our research laboratory was Senator Mensch, North Penn Television(NPTV), various administration, and the superintendent of North Penn School District, Dr. Dietrich. Everyone was filled with excitement and inquiry into our various research endeavors. When the Senator came over to our corner we spoke about current virtual reality applications, such as military training, healthcare, etc. Lots of cameras were pointed my way, but all of my time spent in VR allowed me to discuss our research unhindered by the overabundance of screens. I also showed him the Google Cardboard, which I explained occupied a particular niche in the integration of VR with education due to its ease of use and affordable price tag. I told him that education was the next big development in VR application, despite few companies (such as Google) capitalizing on this nascent potential.
Soon, Dr. Dietrich walked over to speak with Bryan and I regarding our research. I brought up the ubiquity of distraction in the classroom. I was speaking from experience, and so it was easy to get my point across. The entirety of education was laden with electronic distraction, so what if that distraction could be harvested and put to better use? Our goal was to take advantage of our generation's technological crutch, and teach them through the very devices which always seemed to occupy our attention. If we could educate students experientially through an immersive simulation, the learning possibilities were endless.
We were happy to see our interest in VR reciprocated by others, and gladly demonstrated the HTC Vive to both Dr. Dietrich and Senator Mensch!
I showed up on a Saturday to get some extra time experimenting with Unreal Engine 4. It was much easier to make progress without the constraints of bells or schedules. Weather conditions prohibited us from attending our meeting on 2/9 so we rescheduled for the middle of this week. Until then, we need lots of preparation in order to deploy our simulation successfully.
I spent some time in Virtual Reality looking at applications similar to our focus area. I glanced at the Virtual Fine Arts Museum which received some new additions. I looked at Claude Monet's Water Lilies. The art I saw looked better than any I've seen in Virtual Reality before. I took a look at A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by George Seurat. When I stepped up close to the painting, I could see the dots that the artist used to create the painting in the style of Pointillism. Today, I was really impressed by the power of Virtual Reality, and the realistic experiences it can convey.
Our experimentation with Google Cardboard continues.
Yesterday we met with a teacher at our high school to start a dialogue about introducing Google Cardboard and Expeditions into their classroom. The meeting went amazing. There were so many ideas as to how we could use VR in the classroom. We are going to be using Google Expeditions to help her take her classes on a virtual tour of New York so they can better understand the setting in Catcher in the Rye.
Tomorrow, weather permitting, we will be meeting with a teacher in the health and physical education department to discuss the possible use of VR in her classroom as well.
Today we had time to prepare for Philly Materials Day, an engineering event at Drexel University for people of all ages. Julia will be demonstrating 3D Printing and Scanning which looks extremely interesting. This technology may even be integrated into our own Virtual Reality research down the road.
In other news, our meetings have been going great. Our team aims to align a virtual simulation of our creation around the same time that a teacher relays a difficult concept or lesson. The reasoning behind this is so we can fully assess the effectiveness of our simulation.
So far we've met with a mathematics teacher regarding geometric mean, circles, and more. We also met with an educator who teaches anatomy, emergency care, etc.
The meetings continue but so far, our prospects look promising!
The Google Cardboards we purchased have arrived! Today the whole team experimented with our new technology, testing different environments and following each other as one of us led a lesson. We hope to deploy these in the classroom soon, to take several students on a tour of New York City to more easily visualize the setting of a novel. I was extremely impressed by these--they are cost effective and function off the processing power we possess in our pockets all day long!
We have set up times to meet with teachers so we can ultimately choose a teacher and a topic to create our environment around. We have also started finalizing the criteria we will use to determine the teacher we are going to work with.
Cant wait until we pick to we can start building in the unreal engine!!!
The Intelligencer was here on Friday 1/20 to take a look at what we do here at the Engineering Academy! Soon I'll update this post with a link to their article. No Julia or Bryan today, so I took it as an opportunity to demonstrate some educational applications already available to us using the HTC Vive.
This week we are meeting with educators of North Penn High School. By the end of the week we hope to decide what teacher(s) we are working with and finalize the type(science, history, english, math, etc.) of simulation we will be developing initially.
I found this huge statue of the Buddha within an art museum application I was checking out. I thought it was pretty neat!
We have gotten a decent amount of responses at this point. Some ideas floating around right now are pretty cool. Some include anatomy, lifeguard skills, tool/lab safety, tours of locations in books, and atomic structures. We have our work cut out for us! We're currently thinking of buying a few Google Cardboards and possibly integrating Google Expeditions into one of our studies. How exciting! Fox News is coming in today to do some peeking around at what we do in the class. It's going to be crazy! But we're ready!
-Harris and Julia
We are very excited to have received responses to our email that we sent out to the teachers that responded to our survey.
We are setting up meeting times with interested teachers so that we can choose a partner that we feel we can work best with.
We are so excited to move forward!