Virtual reality allows student to explore biomes without leaving the classroom


Janiya Lewis

Getting his first look at virtual reality, Kaizhon Carter, 9, looks at the characteristics of the tundra ecosystem and fills in his worksheet with the detail he sees. For their first virtual reality lab, students viewed examples of ecosystems from across the world, using the goggles purchased by the school through a grant from Gear Up. “We affect the environment and the Earth everyday. We are science experiments ourselves,” Science Teacher Brooke Klett said.

Briana Hernandez, Staff Writer

Experiencing the different ecosystems of the world in the wonder of 3D, students in Environmental Science Teacher Brooke Klett’s third period class conducted a lab using virtual reality goggles on Sept. 19.
Purchased for the school through grant funds from the federal Gear Up program, the headsets and tablets can be used with Google expeditions, a free, online resource.
The goggles offer a way for students to look at other places without leaving the classroom, getting a perspective of the other environments in the world for 25-30 minutes of their block.
“I enjoyed the realistic feeling in this lab,” Freshman Mary Tatum said. “Especially the forest since it had many details.”
Klett said the lab was a way for students to get an idea of how the world around them adapts and changes and how organisms work together in an ecosystem.
“What I was hoping for students to figure out was different areas are different for a reason,” Klett said. “And how the animals live and adapt to different areas, and what they can expect in certain areas.”
Students in the class learned first-hand about the characteristics of each of the biomes as realistically as if they traveled there themselves.
“I earned a lot of information on the savanna biome,” Freshman Tiyon Harston said. “You would think the savanna was all just desert and dryness, who knew it could hold so much more?”
Students said the new goggles offered a new, fun experience and new perspective of what could have been a typical science lesson.
“I learned that doing experiments is fun,” Freshman Austin Jones said. “And that team work is better than doing it by yourself. This lab really taught me so much more than just science, but character as well.”
Viewing the different biomes in groups, students took turns discovering the forest, marine, tundra, and wetlands ecosystems with each new scene offering a different environment with new characteristics.
“It was a good experience. It felt like I was in everything,” Freshman Indeya Walden said. “Especially where the pond showed.”
Overall, the students said unanimously that they would love to use the goggles again, many never having experienced virtual reality before.
“They really enjoyed the lab. I love the kids’ reactions as they looked into different areas,” Klett said. “They started asking questions about the environment and we would have a discussion on it. I love it when the students get into it and start making their own questions.”