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NW students to explore agriculture with VR and online activities

The Frontier STEM Hub and Oregon State University hosted the Malheur Youth Health Science Day where a kid uses VR headset. US Department of Agriculture has granted $1 million for OSU distanced toolkit.

During this pandemic, Washington and Oregon’s middle and high school students can explore agriculture with the help of immersive experiences like, virtual reality. The $1million fund received will also help them to create online activities for the same.

What’s the program is all about?

To execute a creative Agriculture Distance Education Toolkit, SMILE Programs and Precollege Programs of Oregon State University are teaming up with the OSU Extension Service 4-H Youth Development Program.

This project is among the eight nationwide projects that received funding through a quick response grant program, addressing students’ educational needs during this crucial time. VR is nothing but a computer-generated imitation of a 3D environment where one needs to use hand-held controllers, headsets and other pieces of devices to interact with the surrounding.

OSU will collaborate with Timelooper as the latter creates virtual reality excursion to historic and natural sites for schools and colleges. These field trips can be accessible through VR kits and apps.

The project partners will use their contacts and networks to distribute the kits and apps, resulting in speedy, immersive and accessible distance agriculture education for almost hundred educators, twenty thousand students and more than two hundred volunteers from Washington and Oregon’s rural communities.

The main objective is to make youth gain knowledge of agriculture and increase access for educators, students and 4-H volunteers to 3D agriculture through VR.

What will the toolkit have?

Precollege Programs and the SMILE Program’s project director, Susan Rowe believes that the alarming situation due to COVID-19 is inculcating threats to the educational institutions, leading to rapid transformation in institutional and cultural spheres. She further adds that this innovative project will use the newest technology and communication tools for education.

Other partners of this ambitious project are the Washington Agriculture Education in the Classroom Foundation, the Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation and the Washington State University Extension 4-H.

NW students to explore agriculture with VR and online activities
NW students to explore agriculture with VR and online activities

The toolkit will have:

  • VR field trips in agricultural sites with a ‘farm-to-table’ method
  • Online activities designed by youth for their friends
  • Professional development of teachers virtually to execute activities in classrooms
  • Preparation for kids in high school to take part in the Extension 4-H Teens
  • Organize resources for distance agricultural education
  • Virtual activities like, ‘near-peer’ sessions and agricultural science cafes through OSU Beaver Hangouts
  • Virtual challenge through interactive labs held virtually

Along with Rowe, Maureen Hosty is working with the youth to create the app and other toolkit features on the Portland metro area. The latter is the professor and Extension 4-H youth faculty and project co-director on the grant.

Kristen Moore and Barbara Brody assistant professor and associate professor respectively of practice and Extension 4-H faculty agreed that the main part of this project in that the students are getting a chance to get involved in it.

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