Classes may be over for the summer, but thanks to a collaboration between the Humboldt County Library and Lowry High School (LHS) library involving virtual reality (VR), students in one LHS biology class may remember what they learned about DNA and cell-division well into summer.
LHS librarian Pamela Bidart and biology teacher Michelle Pasquale collaborated on a lesson plan incorporating the VR DNA and cell division lessons for one class. The students learned the material like students in Pasquale’s other biology classes, but after the test, they were allowed to visit the VR station at the LHS library. The Lifelique VR program allowed the students to interact with a lifelike representation of DNA and cell division, changing visual orientation, size and proximity.
“The kids were really excited about this part, because they actually got to see the movement,” Bidart said. “So, it was just taking something from flat pictures and discussions into showing the process happening.”
“Even in videos, it’s not the same, because you’re right there,” Pasquale said. “You’re watching it. You can increase the size of the cells, you can walk around the cells, you can see the parts of the cells as they’re dividing. They just don’t get that close to that because it’s all microscopic.”
A state grant from the Nevada State Library provided the funding for the virtual reality program and equipment, which includes the visor, hand controllers, computer and more. The Humboldt County library provided Kyle Ebert’s technical know-how.
Studies in education show that various forms of student interaction with material increases retention. The VR program provided an immersive and individualized interaction with DNA and cells.
Students said the VR component helped them learn and remember the material better than the traditional way in class. Some students even encouraged friends outside of class to visit the VR station.
Student Anthony Hemp jumped at the VR project. “I really got excited about that because it’s life-cycle, you get to learn about it. You can see it in real life,” he said.
“I think we should have done it before we took the test, because it would have helped us out a lot,” he added.
Other teachers are interested in incorporating VR into lesson plans next year, Bidart said.
“This is the great thing about technology that we never had when we were in school,” Pasquale said. “It allows these kids to get excited and have motivation. It means something different to them.”
The county library offers the VR station to all library visitors on appointment. Available VR programs include science-based interactions with dinosaurs or space stations to tours of famous museums like the Louvre in Paris, France.