2018-03-10 / Education

‘Up-and-coming technology’

PECIL students explore far off locales with traveling Learning Lab 360
BY ANNA FLETCHER
COURIER-TIMES STAFF WRITER


Ninth-grade Person Early College for Innovation and Leadership students visited the Learning Lab 360 on Wednesday to explore the worlds of virtual reality. 
ANNA FLETCHER | COURIER-TIMES Ninth-grade Person Early College for Innovation and Leadership students visited the Learning Lab 360 on Wednesday to explore the worlds of virtual reality. ANNA FLETCHER | COURIER-TIMES On Wednesday, students at Piedmont Community College trekked through the rainforest, swam with deep-sea fish, piloted Apollo 11 and explored the inner-workings of human anatomy – all without leaving campus.

Thanks to a mobile lab called Learning Lab 360, which uses virtual reality headgear to present curriculum based media – including history, science, physics, math and astronomy – local students in the community college and in Person Early College for Innovation and Leadership had the opportunity to fully-immerse themselves into new worlds. The mobile lab was in the college’s parking lot from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., so students could visit whenever they could.

With help from a minigrant through the PCC Foundation, the college’s Digital Effects and Animation Technology program partnered with the Film and Video Production Technology program to book the innovative lab, which is based in Holly Springs and travels around the state to schools, community centers, festivals and shopping plazas.

Digital Effects and Ani- mation professor Paula Hindman organized the visit, having heard about the lab from several local virtual reality creators.

“It has double benefits,” she said. “I think one of the [benefits] is the material itself. You can actually look at a beating heart; and you can move around it and see the blood as it moves through it. You can look at all the organs and see how they work.”

The other benefit, she says, comes from the technology itself.

“This is up-and-coming technology,” she said. “Maybe it’ll guide [the students] in the direction of a career. Maybe it’s just that they need to feel they’re more tech-savvy, you know what I’m saying? It’s more of a confidence thing, I think.”

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