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New VR Programme Launched by North Penn High

North Penn High School has received a grant of $65,000 and is partnering with Notiontheory studio and Unity for initiating a spatial computing curriculum to help students develop new environments and applications.

As part of the programme, 40 students (both seniors and juniors) are set to become the first ones to participate in a spatial computing programme, which uses augmented reality and virtual reality devices. They will get a shot at designing their own environments and applications whilst within a digital world. Currently, more than 25 students have signed up for the programme with more expected soon.

Partners
North Penn High has partnered with Notiontheory, a VR and AR education studio for creating educational content for the course. It is also partnering with Unity for the creation of the development platform that the students will use. The North Penn School District Educational Foundation has put forward a grant of $65,000 to help them put the programme together.

Development

The programme has been in development for close to two years now. It started when Curt Dietrich, the District Superintendent, became aware of virtual reality technology and visualised the prospect of VR-powered education.

The students will design and program applications using AR and VR, and become eligible for taking the Unity certification exam, which evaluates the understanding level of students and how well they are prepared for working professionally.

Key factor
Curt Reichwein, Department Chair, Technology and Engineering Education Department, North Penn, is set to monitor the programme. He stated that VR can become a key factor for helping to improve learning in the classroom, by introducing cutting-edge equipment and new technical abilities.

Reichwein expressed that the immersive technology can help students become more imaginative and express their creativity. He remarked that whilst many institutions have planetariums, and compared them to North Penn having immersive technology that can enable students to view the night sky in full clarity from any space. He also emphasised that the immersive experience would cost a lot less than a planetarium.

Spatial Computing

The term spatial computing hints to the ability of computers to generate realistic three-dimensional environments that are capable of replicating elements of the real world. It helps observers become more aware of the environment around them, according to Kristian Buow, the founder of Notiontheory. Comparing this computing type to the game Pokemon Go, he hinted at similarities with characters on the screen interacting with the real world.

Buow remarked that the objective of relying on immersive mediums is to make everyday activities more fun with the help of immersive technology. He said that the true benefits of virtual reality and augmented reality are experienced when one has substantial spatial awareness.

Three day long session

Buow organised a three day long session to train some faculty members recently and the teachers got an idea about the different VR devices and applications. They got familiar with the Magic Leap and how the device is used in the field of surgery. It was an experience that impressed them and gave them confidence for participating in the programme.

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