Blaine County Schools implement virtual reality in lesson plans

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HAILEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Virtual reality has become a popular technology in general gaming, but now it's moving to education.

"Student engagement and academic language are two things that are improved when we have virtual reality in the classroom," said Heather Crocker, director of communications for the Blaine County School District.

It's all about traveling through different time and places all within the classroom and bringing all the excitement out of the students while learning.

"What we wanted to do was find a tool that would leverage this new technology in the classroom in a transparent way, because it should be a supplement to the information they already have," district technology innovator Paul Zimmerman said. "We want to supplement their content instead of replacing their content."

Zimmerman put the kits together last October, which are shared amongst the school district.

"We have recycled phones with some viewers that you could put them in," he said.

He uses a software called Google Expeditions that allows them to venture off to more than 1,000 places worldwide, all based on content being taught in class.

"Photosynthesis — we go inside the plant cell. Plus we've done outer space if they're talking about going to Mars or going to the Moon. We've done animal cells to take a look at mitochondria and things like that," he listed.

Since incorporating the kit into lesson plans, they can't keep up with the demand.

"We have it where it will be gone at middle school for days on end. We have to fight them to get it back," he added.

In effort to have more kits available to students, staff need your help.

"We need older cellphones — I-phone 5 or newer or an Android phone that is four years old or newer," Crocker said.

Donations can be dropped off at any school or library throughout the county.

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