Bringing a smile to a child’s face is one of the most gratifying feelings in life, and if you are, at the same time, able to educate and share knowledge, the experience becomes priceless. With that spirit in mind, HTEC engineer Igor Trkulja combined fun with learning and held a small Virtual Reality workshop to a group of elementary and high-school students.
The kids who enrolled in the multimedia course organized by the American Corner and the Unbox Hub visited HTEC’s offices in Nis. Here, they were able to hear and see how VR works and what the concept behind it is, but also to test out the VR gear on their own. A half an hour lesson in VR basics was concluded by an extra hour of children trying out different VR applications using the HTC Vive headset. The kids swang the Vive Controllers all over the place, mostly looking lost in VR space, but adapted quickly and ended up having fun shooting the invading spaceships, throwing balls at the virtual carnival or mixing chemicals in our own VR Laboratory.
Igor, who is a VR/AR developer, started the workshop by presenting the Google Cardboard as one of the most accessible VR devices and followed up by describing how HTC Vive works. Why this headset in particular? Because it overcomes the main fault of Cardboard and similar devices – there is no motion sickness because the brain is tricked into believing that it is moving inside the VR space while the body is, in fact, standing still in real space. The trick is done by placing Base Stations that track your movement in 3D space with the help of infrared pulses.
“I’m happy that we were able to give these children an opportunity to experience VR,” says Igor. “Young minds are open to innovations and their ideas can often improve the existing solutions. Although young, our guests are in such an age that they can preliminarily decide their path in life, and I’m glad that we showed them something new, whether they decide to specialize in the said direction or not. What is important is to help them learn to make their choices early on. Apart from enjoying the VR apps, the students also learned about the importance of education and how to direct their own interests. If we continue cooperating with the Unbox Hub in the future, I’ll be glad to continue working with our guests on developing innovative solutions for educational purposes.”
VR, being a relatively new technology, is already finding its place in people’s lives. Apart from the obvious usage in terms of entertainment, this technology provides a fertile ground for more experimental work that can bring more direct benefits to the mankind. There are numerous examples of usage in medical research, ranging from curing people of phobias, like acrophobia, to helping stroke patients to recover from neural damage. Another equally important aspect of our lives is education, and VR found its place in there too. Virtual reality is a great choice for conducting real-life simulations for educational purposes. This way, users are even more prepared for the challenges that await them at work or further down their education.
The Unbox Hub provides kids with workshops in photography, video production, learning methods, programming, online journalism, etc., all with the help of mentors. Together, all of them actively contribute to innovations in education and algorithm literacy of children. In May, one of the teachers involved in the project, Milan Petrovic, was the guest of our Protok podcast and explained the concept of this co-learning space. He emphasized how students are quickly transformed into teachers and leaders on different projects, and how readily they adopt the responsibility and care for others and the community.