BRISTOL, Va. (AP) — Immersive technology that puts students inside the cockpit of a fighter plane, on the ocean floor or lets them virtually dissect animals is now available at two city schools.

Dubbed virtual reality, the technology has morphed from entertainment applications to education, reaching a generation of teens who grew up playing computer games.

On March 23, Virginia High School held an open house for teachers and students to visit its new virtual reality lab. Inside are 12 VR headsets, controllers and computers to take students virtually anywhere. A similar lab is now set up at Virginia Middle School and believed to be among the largest in the region, according to Logan Childress, emerging technology specialist.

“The purpose is to give a futuristic look into educational technology. To give teachers and classes something they can use to help further education in the classroom, supplement what they’re doing and try to mitigate some of the learning loss from the past couple of years (due to COVID),” Childress said.

The equipment was paid for with federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, allocated to address learning loss incurred during the past two years due to disruptions by the pandemic.

“It’s interactive. I call it the ‘gamification’ of learning because this is a medium students understand. If they can learn through this or even as a supplemental — it’s more native to them, engaging and visual all at the same time,” Childress said.

Some of the applications are basic, designed to introduce users to the technology, while others are much more in-depth and highly interactive.


“We had an environmental science class come down. It’s much more than turning a page or watching a video. You have these things in your hand so you can interact,” Principal Ronnie Collins said. “As a history teacher, I can tell you about blitzkrieg all day or show you a video, but this is so much more.”

Virtually any discipline probably has a virtual reality application.