Science teachers face unique challenges when it comes to running their classes. The need for specialised equipment to conduct experiments, a focus on student safety and the resupply of resources makes for a logistical challenge, both in delivering lessons and catering to the individual needs of students.
Today, new education technologies are stepping up to provide teachers with more opportunity to create engaging lessons and overcome resourcing issues. One such resource, the newly released IntoScience, allows teachers to take their lesson online. Students are allowed to freely explore a 3D environment full of activities and virtual experiments, taking the best game-like elements to engage students and promote learning. And when it is time for students to focus on a particular activity or lesson, teachers can ‘teleport’ students to the chosen area to bring a classroom structure to the virtual world, shutting out any outside content until the activity is completed. These activities map to curriculum content, so teachers can browse through student results and notes for reporting, diagnosing student needs and creating learning pathways through a diverse range of activities and experiments.
The open world of IntoScience, built on the cutting edge development tool Unity, also provides the unique opportunity to include real-world locations. Imagine students being able to transport themselves to the most interesting and scientifically rich destinations to virtually study plant life, ecosystems… anything and everything that the real word has to offer. The first of these locations will be the world’s oldest cave system, the Jenolan Caves. Located a few hours from Sydney, Australia, the caves offer an incredibly diverse range of scientific activities, mixed with a healthy dose of adventure! Students can enter the caves and discover ancient wall paintings, take samples back to their online laboratory, and answer questions about how the caves were formed – all while in the caves.
This impressive project has been made possible by a partnership between 3P Learning, the company behind IntoScience, and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Using CSIRO technology to fully map the Jenolan Caves, such as the Zebedee hand-held laser scanner (looking very much like a Star Wars movie prop), IntoScience has been able to take the raw data and recreate a full-scale replica of the caves. Special cameras helped translate the diverse colours and textures into a place where students and teachers can learn ‘first-hand’ in a faithful reproduction of the real thing.
There are more real-world locations planned for the online world of IntoScience. In the meantime, you can find out more about the companies, technologies and more through the links below.