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Middle school students designing and entering their own virtual realities

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Posted at 5:45 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 09:20:43-04

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — At Robert Stuart Middle School, 22 students have been spending the week creating their own explorable virtual worlds within the classroom.

They are first tasked with projects assigned by their instructor and STEM teacher Todd Anderson. The students then build, format, and create virtual realities using computer software.

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They then get to put on their actual virtual reality headsets and walk around and interact with the worlds have designed.

Half of the participating students are English-learning students who oftentimes don’t have time throughout the regular school year to participate in STEM classes while they are focused on intensive English classes.

The instructor says speaking perfect English is not something needed for this summer camp and many of those students excel at creating their own virtual realities.

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“You put on that VR headset and it takes you into another world,” said Anderson. “You don’t even know that you are here in Robert Stuart Middle School, you think you are on another planet or in another country.”

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Some of the participating students also serve as peer mentors to help the other virtual reality designers bring their ideas to life.

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“With this, I have been able to make my 3D modeling creations and then program them and then be able to experience them in virtual reality,” said 8th-grade student Nicolas Humphries. “Which I find that just absolutely amazing.

The students will soon begin their final project and the camp is funded with the help of grant money from the Idaho STEM Action Center and Gear Up.