Northborough – Robert E. Melican Middle School students now have the opportunity to explore faraway places and discover new things with the use of Virtual Reality (VR) glasses, thanks to a grant from the Northborough Education Foundation (NEF).
NEF awarded the grant of $10,700 to Principal Michelle Karb this past September. With the funds, she was able to purchase 50 Apple iPods and 50 Homido Mini VR glasses to make up two sets per classroom. The VR sets offer the students the ability to take virtual field trips where they can be immersed in the lessons by visualizing what they are learning about without having to leave the classroom.
“Thanks to this grant,” Karb said, “students at Melican will be able to view and appreciate the world in which they live like never before, and it will play an important role in the continued growth of Melican students as global citizens.”
Michael Groccia, instructional technology specialist at the school, has used the VR sets to teach sixth-grade students about population density and the impact it has on living standards. Through the use of the VR sets, the students were able to see firsthand how this has affected cities like Mexico City and Tokyo.
“The use of Virtual Reality (VR) in classrooms has engaged Melican students and provided high-interest learning activities, as well as transported them to places such as Mexico City, Tokyo, and the Greenland Ice Shelf,” said Groccia. “Visiting these faraway places through virtual reality has given students a unique perspective and opened them up to appreciating areas of the world unfamiliar to many of them. The immersive experience of virtual reality field trips is another way for students to master learning objectives.”
When asked about the use of the VR glasses, seventh-grader Samantha Capes, said: “It gave us a chance to really experience what our teachers have been talking about … Plus it was very fun!”
In September 2018, NEF awarded $68,000 to 20 grant recipients. Along with Melican, Marion E. Zeh, Fannie E. Proctor, and Marguerite E. Peaslee elementary schools all received grants for VR sets to be used for virtual field trips.
The Northborough Education Foundation (NEF) is a volunteer-run organization that provides Northborough teachers and administrators with the resources necessary to improve curriculum, programs and services beyond the level supported by the annual school budget. For calendar year 2019, NEF has the generous support of platinum sponsor, Sullivan-Kreiss Financial.
Donations can be mailed to Northborough Education Foundation, PO Box 1094, Northborough, MA 01532. For questions about NEF or how a business can become a sponsor, visit www.northboroughed.org.