By Clarion Herald Staff
Photos | COURTESY MOUNT CARMEL ACADEMY
Mount Carmel Academy students are gaining a deeper understanding of health sciences than ever before through use of zSpace virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
Mount Carmel uses this technology to learn STEM subjects using immersive images that they can move and manipulate in applications across a wide-range of standards-aligned curriculum.
zSpace delivers the ultimate learning experience to inspire curiosity and accelerate understanding. By combining elements of AR and VR on all-in-one laptops, the program creates personalized learning experiences that are interactive and lifelike. Each computer features tracking eyewear and a stylus, allowing students to interact with objects and gain deeper and more meaningful understanding of the science behind them. Unlike other virtual reality solutions, such as head-mounted displays, zSpace enables interaction and group collaboration. Best of all, zSpace empowers students to “learn by doing” in an environment where it is easy to undo mistakes, make changes and not worry about material costs or clean up.
“Visiting a classroom yesterday where students were beginning to explore zSpace, I found the students engaged, enthusiastic and eager to explore what else they will learn in the lab,” said Mount Carmel Sister Camille Anne Campbell, Mount Carmel Academy president. “We are offering the best preparation in STREAM. Science, technology, religion, engineering, art and math have always been essential to learning about God’s world, and we are providing the latest technology already used in many medical and engineering schools.”
At Mount Carmel Academy, 80 zSpace laptops are set up into four zSpace STEM labs in the science department. Students turn, take apart or lift virtual objects using an interactive stylus. Collaborating in small groups, they can discuss their observations and record data.
All students wear custom 3D glasses to create a communal AR/VR experience, unlike solo virtual reality technologies like Oculus Rift. In addition, students can watch the teacher or another student demonstrate their work on one of four master screens visible to the entire class.
Senior Iris Bertin is amazed at what she experienced through zSpace in her Biology II class.
“Using zSpace was so helpful because I was able to fully engage in what I was learning,” she said. “I was able to use the glasses provided to look at a heart in 3D. Using the electronic stylus, I learned about all the different valves and chambers by moving the heart 360 degrees. I also zoomed into different parts of the heart! I had a hands-on lesson through the computer.”
Biology I student Avery Villarrubia had a similar experience.
“The glasses make it look real – like you are actually touching what is on the screen! You can explore anything you want, such as cells, viruses and organs.”
Mount Carmel Academy anatomy teacher Maddi Hannan is excited to incorporate this interactive technology in her classroom.
“zSpace gives the girls the realistic experience of visualizing the human body in ways not possible before,” she said. “Without zSpace, they wouldn’t be able to critically think about and understand the intricate composition of the body. Whether it’s pulling out muscles or bones in a three-dimensional space, or watching an augmented reality heartbeat in real time with the vibrations sensing in their fingertips, zSpace opens doors for the girls to truly experience the human body and appreciate it in ways not otherwise possible.”
Every student at Mount Carmel Academy will access the zSpace labs at some point in science classes. Software includes Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards-based lesson plans in life science, earth science, engineering and physics. Students can learn about everything from circuits to cells. Other programs involving additional academic subjects will be introduced in the future.