STEMLab Virtual Reality- taking STEM teaching to the next level

The team

Our team consists of various experts across STEMLab subjects project managed and supported by the School of Science Enhanced Learning Team. In the team we have Firat Batmaz (Computer Science), Sandie Dann (Chemistry), Helen Willcock (Materials), Mike Walsh (Physics), Sarah Turner (Biology), Lee Barnett (CAP), Samantha Chester and Aaran Grimley (Science Enhanced Learning).

Background

This project builds upon a previous Teaching Innovation Award which was used to test the concept of virtual reality (VR) in STEM Teaching. After very positive feedback from the virtual reality application created using a Chemistry experiment we now aim to test out different disciplines in the environment and establish some sort of template for future virtual reality use in STEMLab teaching. We also hope to push the VR to the next stage by testing out the differences in individual use and group use, for example using the Igloo on campus too.

Aims

* To expand on a Loughborough specific virtual reality application designed for STEMLab, to allow students to feel familiar in the labs

* Increase the use of learning technology in lab teaching, within pre and post activities

* Increase students understanding of health and safety protocol in labs

* Increase deep learning for students within the lab

Objectives

* Virtual reality application with 1 Chemistry, 1 Materials, 1 Physics and 1 Biology experiment with a health and safety focus within these experiments

* Virtual reality application to be transferable to the Igloo

* Test the difference between student experience of VR on the individual mobile device and the group experience in the Igloo

Progress so far

So far, we have met as a group and began to gather ideas on what each discipline could imagine working well in virtual reality and what could benefit their students the most. We are also beginning to gather extra feedback from students, for example, Mike Walsh (Physics) has shown the current application to his students in a lecture and asked for ideas on what they would like to see. To explore the various avenues with VR Helen Willcock is investigating the use of industry contacts in the Materials activity. Another group meeting is scheduled with the purpose being to determine what each discipline’s VR activity will be about and then Science Enhanced Learning will work with the academics to draw up story boards to work from. We are also in the process of finding a STEMLab Intern too to help develop the application! All systems go, go, go!

Author: Samantha Chester