Virtual Reality tools allow RCTC students to visit space - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Virtual Reality tools allow RCTC students to visit space


No small steps needed for this giant leap for student-kind.

While it may look like plugging into the Matrix, students can use a headset to take a trip among the stars.

Students in John Tacinelli's class are among the first to get to use this new technology.

Back in June, the Minnesota State Educational Innovations Conference awarded RCTC a $22,700 grant to begin implementing the Virtual Reality lab.

And so far it's really opening eyes.

"It's a total different experience using the VR," Cameron, one of the students, said.

This is a tool available to professors who want to demonstrate abstract concepts, in this case the vastness of space, in a one of a kind way.

"This would be the only way you could get this experience," Tacinelli said. "Even if you went into space, you probably couldn't get an experience quite like this."

Tacinelli says one of the biggest concepts students struggle understanding in his class, is the relative size of celestial objects.

With this tool they can put planets and moons next to each other and really see first-hand how it all works.

However the main hurdle right now is that the experience is mainly for one person. 

While the school is setting up another lab, there's no way for a whole class to experience it all together.

But, Tacinelli remains hopeful for the future of the technology.

"It's just in it's infancy, so that's the thing." Tacinelli said. "It's going to change, it's going to get better, it's going to get more interactive and I'm interested to see how it's going to turn out."

This virtual reality lab will not just be for exploring space in the solar system astronomy class, professors are also planning on demonstrating aspects of internal anatomy with it as well.

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