Page 16 - FIS World Feb 2019
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 During a special lesson on Geocaching, students use a GPS-enabled device (iPad) to navigate specific coordinates in an attempt
to find “hidden treasures”
Immersing Young Scientists in the Virtual World
One of the latest cutting-edge educational tools in which FIS has invested is augmented reality through Virtual Reality (VR) goggles. Earlier this year, Grade 3 and 5 students had the opportunity to use the Upper School’s VR goggles to visit land formations and ancient civilizations. “The VR goggles are amazing because the students are immersed within the learning experience,”
Ms. Walton said. “I think they are the perfect tool to introduce students to some of the limitless opportunities they will have in their future.”
With a quick tutorial of the equipment, students quickly traveled to locations of their choosing, such as Yellowstone Park, the Great Barrier Reef, Afghanistan, Spain, and New York City. They located places on the map, zoomed in, flew over mountains and skyscrapers, and with a click of
a button, were standing in Mount Vesuvius or on top of the Himalayas. “You are literally standing at the tallest point in the world! But it’s not cold,” said one Grade 5 student. Another classmate sighed and said, “This is the coolest thing ever. It’s like you are right there!”
Later in the year, Grade 4 students will travel through the human body and its systems as part of their “Who We Are” unit. Gillian Königer, FIS teacher and Grade 4 Year Head, said the VR technology enhances her students’ understanding of the lessons with deeper questions. When students have the opportunity to be inside the body to see how the systems work together, it becomes a “game changer,” she said.
“Using the VR goggles, in particular, is a special activity for these young scientists and one they look forward to as part of the lesson. While they do not replace some of the traditional pedagogy, they can transform learning in the classroom,” says Bryne Stothard, Upper School Geography and TOK teacher and Grade 11 Year Head, who also is the school’s resident VR expert. For these young students, the short interactive experiences, like navigating the human body or flying to the Great Barrier Reef, bridge the gap between simpler experiences to truly immersive ones that students will likely use as a learning tool once they
get older.
“I think that we need to view VR as a classroom tool, much in the same way that laptops are viewed today,” Mr. Stothard said. “The real power of VR comes from its potential to help promote student choice, new types of design, collaboration and student-led discussion. VR also presents us with
an opportunity to transform students from consumers of high-end tech into producers – a very exciting notion!”
Throughout its four grade levels, the Elementary School team has covered expansive subject areas over the past few months with STEM projects accompanying many of them. Parents interested in exploring and better understanding STEM, including the Makerspace lab, can see projects and displays at the STEM Expo during the upcoming Elementary School Conference
days in March.
Linda Kerr, FIS Parent
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