Video+Story: CTE Students Expand Training Thanks to New Virtual Reality Tool

A new virtual reality tool will allow CCTE, Franklin and Silva Health Magnet students to look deep into every aspect of the human body, dissect animals, explore paleontology and even study automotive applications without leaving the classroom.

Trainers introduced the new zSpace technology to Career and Technology Education teachers from CCTE, Franklin and Silva Health Magnet last week.

The teachers donned special tracking glasses and wielded a stylus to get a close up, authentic look at internal organs, blood vessels and other parts of the human body. The skull virtually popped into the space between teachers and their screens – giving them a chance to maneuver the stylus and go in for a closer look.

Anatomy is only one of many virtual, 3-D learning applications available through the zSpace technology.

“One of the things that makes this so important and so critical is the high level of engagement that it evokes from students immediately,” said Kevin Dougherty, zSpace sales director. “You don’t have to rely on the teacher to evoke that from kids. It actually comes from the child themselves from elementary through high school when they have this experience with virtual reality.”

Photo courtesy of zSpace

During the all-day training, the teachers spent time exploring the human body and discussing how to incorporate their lessons with the new technology.

The initial movements of the stylus brought lots of oohs and ahhs – something the teachers expect to hear when their students begin using zSpace. The technology offers engaging, real-world training that offers students a deeper understanding of their curriculum.

“The training has been very interactive,” said Dr. Dominque Nehring, who teaches vet tech at CCTE. “The kids are going to be really excited to use this.”

Nehring finds the possibility endless for the new technology – giving students virtual hands-on lessons in areas they might not otherwise experience. Students could perform anything from a virtual EKGs to examining the inner workings of a car, learn how to take it apart and put it back together.

“We could even do a virtual spay or neuter,” she said. “This has been a nice experience. I’ve learned a lot and we’re excited about bringing our kids in and letting them start playing.”

zSpace technology is spreading throughout Texas but Dougherty said EPISD has become an area of focus for the company.

“What’s most exciting about working here in El Paso ISD is the great sense of vision and the idea that anything is possible,” Dougherty said. “As a result, we’re looking to set El Paso ISD as our first district of distinction in the state of Texas for zSpace.”

Story by Reneé de Santos  |  Video by Raymond Jackson/EPISD