We here at the IVRC love sharing the power of virtual reality with the community and last week was no exception at the Power Up! Out-of-School Summit put on by the Idaho AfterSchool Network. The event, in its 4th year and held at Boise State University is Idaho’s only conference solely dedicated to educators who run programs or offer services that youth may access out-of-school: summer, after school, camps or even online. Almost 200 participants came from around the state to take part in fifteen different breakout sessions, network with others in similar roles, and learn from the numerous speakers. Twenty seven partner organizations set up tables to showcase products, services or programs relevant to out-of-school time. The IVRC was excited to be at the event to show our support to the Idaho AfterSchool Network as well as to showcase how VR can be used in an education setting.
It was our first time at this event and we were grateful to have Paul Zimmerman, Technology Innovator at the Blaine County School District join us. Paul brought with him the Google Expeditions kit that he and teachers throughout the district are using in the classroom to enhance current curriculum. Their school district has seen tremendous success leveraging the technology in classrooms over the last year and he was very excited to show other educators the power that VR has to deeply engage students. Attendees were able to experience a Google Expedition to the solar system led by Paul similar to how they’re done in the classroom. He drew quite a crowd with his enthusiasm and there was no shortage of “ooooohs and ahhhhs”. Quite a number of people were interested in learning how they could replicate Blaine County’s Program in their school district so we will be following up to assist those interested in their VR journey! We also showcased the Oculus Rift at the IVRC table taking people through a more intense tour of the solar system with Titans of Space 2.0.
Overall feedback was fantastic at the event and Kurstin Mariott from the Idaho AfterSchool Network said, "the summit is all about empowering educators and giving them useful tools to take back into their communities. The best part about having VR there was getting a glimpse at the future of education, and seeing firsthand the ways that this technology can break down learning barriers for Idaho’s youth." We look forward to attending this event next year on September 10th and 11th and appreciate the opportunity from the Idaho AfterSchool Network to collaborate on this event. It was also great seeing some of our community partners there including STEM Action Center, Micron Foundation, STEM Revolution and others!
If you're interested in learning more about Blaine County School District's VR program, Paul Zimmerman wrote a four part blog post series for the IVRC regarding the district's journey and how they brought the technology to the classroom.