Botetourt County history class using Virtual Reality

Students can go to space or other historic sites reinforcing lessons in class

BOTETOURT COUNTY – Many schools allow students to bring their cell phones to class to use for learning but a Botetourt County class is using the technology in a new way.

Cardboard boxes are making history come alive for 7th graders.

"It's really fun because you get to not just read from the book, from the textbook, write stuff down. You get to actually go there and see where it is and see what it looks like," said Lindsey Boone, a 7th grade student at Read Mountain Middle School.

"It's almost weird the first time you do it but then you're like 'wow.' being able to experience it," said Austin Amiss, a 7th grade student.

Amiss saw the free "CowzVR" at a local Chick-fil-a. It uses cardboard and mirrors, turning cell phone apps into Virtual Reality.

He brought one to school and Katie Hutchison got more donated to use in her classroom.

"It was cool that we could actually go to a steel mill in Pittsburgh and get that experience and have a better appreciation for those types of roles in history. It makes the past come alive," said Hutchison, a middle school history teacher.

Using virtual reality, students can go to space or other historic sites. This is the first semester Hutchison has used the technology. She only uses it three to four times a month as an introduction to a lesson or to reinforce something.

"History's fun. It's nice to explore everything especially with the VR it really helps just kind of enhancing the learning," said Amiss.

The school superintendent and other administrators challenged teachers at the beginning of the school year to try new things.

"They told us they would support us no matter what it was, no matter how crazy the idea was. If it was a complete failure that was okay. They just wanted to get us thinking outside the box, increasing student engagement in our classrooms," said Hutchison.

Chick-fil-a noticed virtual reality (VR) was gaining in popularity so they decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, because there are a very limited number of viewers remaining, the restaurants are unable to offer any more.

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You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m. She also leads our monthly Solutionaries Series, where we highlight the creative thinkers and doers working to make the world a better place.