Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School students used virtual reality to learn at Ctrl V in Red Deer Wednesday. Contributed photo

Learning with virtual reality in Red Deer

Lindsay Thurber students learned chemistry at Ctrl V Wednesday

Virtual reality isn’t just about games, it can be used to teach as well.

A group of Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School students, mostly from grades 10 and 11, travelled to Ctrl V in Red Deer on Wednesday to experience a virtual reality chemistry program.

Science teacher Jason Zackowski said the students enjoyed the experience.

“In our advanced curriculum, we are learning some pretty complicated concepts about electron locations within probability zones or shells, and the virtual games were made to have kids practise this,” said Zackowski.

READ MORE: Red Deer teacher engages students with “cool” science experiments

Each student got about 30 to 35 minutes in the program, where they built atoms with the proper number of protons and neutrons, and the correct number of electrons in the correct shells.

Zackowski said he and other teachers at Lindsay Thurber try to keep students engaged by implementing new and interesting ways to learn.

“Sometimes in science, you hit walls where you can’t do labs to explain theoretical concepts,” said Zackowski.

The virtual reality program “cements something extremely abstract with something tangible the kids can see in front of them and interact with. It was very powerful.

“This is a huge breakthrough to let the kids see this,” he said. “We’ll go every year that it’s offered and we’ve been giving the developer of the software feedback. They’re hoping to tweak it, make it better and more intuitive, and add some more stuff.”

Zackowski said if this type of technology could be applied to biology and other sciences, “the possibilities could be endless.”

At the end of the trip, students played a virtual game where they threw atoms at each other to knock classmates off a virtual cliff.

“It was exciting and tense with tons of laughs and screams,” said Zackowski.

Madinah Ramji, Ctrl V operating manager, said programs like The Virtual Classroom open the door to more types of content.

“There is a lot of educational content out there,” said Ramji. “There are things like fire extinguisher simulators and things for the oil rigs. It’s definitely becoming increasingly popular as the technology advances.”

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