Students in Mesita Elementary’s Connecting Worlds/Mundos Unidos summer camp walked purposely around Cielo Vista Mall earlier this week before most stores opened.
That day, shopping wasn’t on their to-do list.
Instead, the students went to the Apple Store to edit video, Fata Morgana for a virtual reality experience and walked through the mall to collect digital scavenger hunt clues on iPads.
The entire visit to the mall was centered around learning and using technology, the theme of this summer’s camp. The camp is part of EPISD’s Summer Enrichment Program that offers academic and extracurricular camps for students throughout the district during the summer break.
Students shot video on iPads at school and around the mall then received hands-on editing lessons from Apple Store teachers, helping them put the finishing touches on their films.
“We’re making a robbery movie,” said Johan Celis, waiting to get into the Apple Store to start the editing process. “It’s really cool. I’ve never been to the mall to do this. I like it a lot.”
The students also used Instagram to illustrate their field trip, taking photos of nine different scavenger hunt clues such as going to the playground area and taking a picture in the tunnel or taking a selfie in front of a vending soda machine.
All clues were in Spanish to reinforce the dual language component.
“The students are going around the mall with different tasks,” Duran said. “They have to take pictures of certain technology and we are going to upload them on Instagram.”
While students visited the Apple Store, another set of the 140 students visited Fata Morgana to experience a 7-dimensional thrill ride featuring a snow fight while individual students sat in an egg shaped virtual reality video game playing a Mario Bros.-like video game in a 9-D environment.
“Today, we’re hosting an entertainment adventure for Mesita Elementary highlighting technology that is very relevant,” said Oscar Hinojosa of Fata Morgana. “We want to motivate kids to dream and to dream big. We want them to know they don’t have to think they must go to San Francisco or New York or another city to develop things. This technology can be developed locally. I want to motive them to be the next engineer, scientist, developer or the next Bill Gates.”
Hinojosa described the 9-D technology as a total entertainment experience involving all the senses. Students hopped on the egg-shaped chair and slid on an oculus to get the most out of their experience, which involved hitting targets and being a target.
“They truly feel like they are inside the space,” he said. “They get the sound, the visuals, they get the movement. It’s an entertaining experience for them.”
Mesita third grader Odette Dominguez was the first to try the egg-shaped virtual reality game.
“It felt pretty cool but you get kind of dizzy when you are done,” she said. “I think other people will enjoy it because it’s really fun.”