Virtual Reality

Northside ISD Honored for Innovative AR/VR Tech Use

San Antonio's Northside Independent School District (NISD) has been selected as a zSpace District of Distinction (DOD) for its implementation of the company's augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology in science education classes across two dozen middle school campuses.

The invitation to be a DOD means the district's purchase and innovative use of the technology qualifies it to collaborate with zSpace and other school districts to promote "best practices and advancements in education," comply with data security policies and regulations, work toward "automated efficiency," and serve as a model for school districts.

In fall 2022, NISD purchased 550 Inspire laptops and 24 All in One (AIO) devices. District leaders, educators, and IT personnel collaborated to implement the technology and develop and incorporate relevant lesson plans into the science curriculum.

zSpace's AR/VR technology allows students to use interactive and lifelike AIOs with a pen-like stylus that has built-in tracking to visualize, pick up, examine, rotate, dissect, and manipulate virtual objects. A head-mounted display is not required.

The company said this kinesthetic ed tech allows students "learn by doing in an environment where it is easy to undo mistakes, make changes, and not worry about material costs or clean up" or the risks of being exposed to potentially dangerous elements in the real world.

Specifically NISD has used their equipment to comply with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) science standards, said Sheena Shoemaker, zSpace senior customer success manager in an e-mail, in some of the following ways:

  • Sixth-grade students have used it to "visualize Earth's rotation on an axis around the sun and how it affects the seasons;"
  • Seventh-grade students have used it to "run and visualize force and motion experiments, data collection, and graphing skills;" and
  • Eighth-grade students have used it to "visualize atoms and compounds related to chemical formulas."

Visit zSpace's technology page to learn more about how its AR/VR software works.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.