Brayden Blunk, a student at Carroll Middle School, tests out a pair of virtual-reality glasses Thursday.
Brayden Blunk, a student at Carroll Middle School, tests out a pair of virtual-reality glasses Thursday.

November 19, 2018

As students slipped black goggles over their eyes and found the controls, they slipped out of reality and into a virtual universe.

On Thursday, Carroll Middle School students in Kassidy Cardenas’ science class were able to test out a pair of virtual-reality glasses brought in by Pete Evans from the industrial design department at Iowa State University.

Evans visits with Carroll Middle School students every year to talk to them about technology such as virtual-reality glasses and 3-D printers.

Right now, students in Cardenas’ class are in the middle of working on a project about design solutions. With the help of Evans and the virtual-reality glasses, students were able to view past work completed by other middle-school students to help them get an idea of what they will need to complete in the coming weeks.

In a few weeks, Evans will return to Carroll Middle School to see what students have accomplished with their own virtual-reality programs and let students print out their projects using a 3-D printer to create a physical representation of their projects.

For their assignment, students will pretend future Earth has been destroyed and everyone has moved to Mars. It is their responsibility to rebuild a sustainable society back on Earth in the Midwest. When creating their society, students must create a form of renewable energy, clean transportation, food production, waste management and find a way to keep citizens from natural disasters. The catch: students can’t let the same thing happen to their home planet that happened the first time, Cardenas said.

“It’s also essential for them to think about the components that contribute to a society and the effects of those components,” she said.

Cardenas said the visit from Iowa State University allowed middle-school students to take a peek inside of the virtual worlds they soon will be creating and gave them an opportunity to see all of the new technology they will be able to work with.

The visit from Iowa State University was a great opportunity for students to evaluate previous students’ work against the criteria and constraints of the project using complex communication tools,” she said.