A folded piece of cardboard is bringing virtual reality glimpses of other worlds to students across Lake Havasu City.
“This was the first time I had ever heard of it or seen it,” said Zoe Festa-Woods, a 16-year-old junior at Lake Havasu High School. “It was almost bizarre.”
The Lake Havasu Unified School District introduced Google Cardboard to students throughout its elementary, middle, and high schools this school year. The device, which can be literally constructed out of cardboard, allows people to “experience virtual reality in a simple, fun, and affordable way,” according to the Google Cardboard website.
Users can either purchase a Google Cardboard viewer or make their own out of cardboard, which is used to support their mobile phones. Users can then download a mobile application that allows them to experience virtual worlds of Paris, museums, oceans and space.
Michelle Burke, the district’s technology integration specialist, said Google Cardboard began to become mainstream about three years ago. She said Audrey Hoyt, general manager at the Quality Inn & Suites, initially donated six devices to the district, which cost less than $100. The district then purchased three more durable versions for less than $50, she said. She said at the time teachers are becoming comfortable with the devices, and they haven’t yet incorporated the virtual explorations into their lesson plans.
“The kids love it; the students love it,” Burke said, adding that it increases their engagement in the classroom.
Burke said other mobile applications that district students are using include an application that can make human anatomy “come to life,” another that allows students to color a picture of a bird that then “comes to life,” and one that examines the nucleus of plant cells.
Festa-Woods said the introduction of the virtual reality experience this year surprised her.
“If we are in such a rural area (and have access to this), what do they have in the big city?” she said. “The fact that we are able to be exposed to this is amazing.”