THS, TMS to receive VR equipment
Published 2:09 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2023
By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer
ALABASTER – Alabaster City Schools students will soon have a new way to learn as virtual reality equipment will make its way into the hands of students.
The ACS Board of Education approved the purchase of Transfr virtual reality equipment during its latest meeting on Monday, April 10. The purchase was made possible thanks to a $50,000 ALSDE CTE Technology grant.
Chief Academic Officer Amanda Wilbanks wrote the grant application and explained the reasoning behind using virtual reality equipment for education in science, technology, engineering and math.
“To create a pathway for our students to college and career opportunities at THS and after graduation, I wanted to provide Thompson Middle School STEM students with additional curriculum and equipment that will create interest and allow for career exploration,” Wilbanks said. “Transfr VR aligns with THS computer science, engineering and industrial maintenance programs as well as industry by allowing students to virtually experience a variety of STEM careers.”
The VR equipment will help teach students about career exploration and skilled trades.
Wilbanks explained how the equipment will be used in a classroom setting.
“In virtual reality situations, students will learn how to take precise measurements, read blueprints, troubleshoot issues, use complex tools safely and learn soft skills—all while being coached through a virtual instructor,” she said. “It is a very immersive experience that students will love. Transfr VR is another way Alabaster City Schools is ‘Building Champions of Our Future.’”
ACS used the grant to purchase seven three-year licenses from Transfr virtual reality for virtual reality career exploration via Oculus headsets.
The headsets are planned to be used in courses at both Thompson Middle School and Thompson High School.
“TMS is ready for hands-on education that focuses on modern learning,” Wilbanks said. “Moreover, the VR equipment will better align the middle school STEM program with those at the high school. We sometimes see attrition and students choosing other electives by eighth-grade when students should be learning the basic STEM foundational skills for high school.”
THS currently offers a, four-year CTE programs in computer science and STEM engineering and is in its first year of a three-year, on-campus, dual enrollment industrial maintenance program that will result in either a short certificate or associate’s degree depending on the student’s preference and commitment.
“The ability for students to explore and practice skills via VR that they will use at the high school level will hopefully spark interest and retain students in CTE programs,” Wilbanks said.
ACS also hopes to see improvements in the math skills of students with the addition of the new VR equipment.
“Transfer VR equipment, which includes such math skills as precise measurement and spatial/geometric reasoning, will assist students in acquiring skills that were lacking on the ACAP,” Wilbanks said.
The last need ACS hopes that the equipment will service is to create student interest in careers that are high-demand, high-wage, readily available and close to students’ homes.
“Transfr VR teaches basic skills, including those related to manufacturing, in an engaging way that may lead to a career/educational path,” Wilbanks said.
More information on Transfr can found on its website at Transfrinc.com.