STEM and VR
MEL Science Launches Virtual Reality Chemistry Lessons
MEL Science, based in London, has launched a series of virtual reality (VR) chemistry lessons for K–12. The 3-year-old company this week released a MEL Chemistry VR app, featuring a virtual chemistry lab, for free on Google Daydream. This free version, which contains the first six chemistry lessons, is available at this MEL Science site.
According to MEL Science, chemistry is filled with abstract concepts that may prove difficult for young students to understand. The best method for kids to learn is through hands-on interaction, so MEL Science developed these VR chemistry lessons to enliven molecular-level science and illustrate it on an immersive, life-sized level.
The lessons follow K–12 curricular guidelines, and are designed to be used in the classroom or at home. A special version for educators will be released soon, the company said.
In these first six lessons, students should be able to see what it’s like to dive into a pencil (graphite) or a diamond and discover what these objects look like on an atomic level.
Students should be able to learn about basic chemistry principles in an interactive, friendly way, including topics such as:
- The difference between solids and gases;
- The structure of an atom;
- What an electron orbital is; and
- What an isotope is.
Students will also get the opportunity to build an atom of any known element with their hands and/or a guiding tool. Anything that appears on the modern periodic table should be available to build, said Vassili Philippov, CEO of MEL Science.
MEL Science aims to release more than 150 lessons covering all the main topics included in K–12 schools’ chemistry curriculum. Later this year, MEL Science also aims to add support for other VR platforms, including Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR.
MEL Science is known for its subscription service, offering educational science sets through the mail. Through this service, parent subscribers get two new chemistry sets every month, allowing them to perform engaging educational experiments at home with their children.
“We’d like to change science education,” Philippov said in an interview. “Virtual reality is the perfect language for science, because you can see what is happening on the micro level. You can’t see molecules. But with virtual reality, you can be inside a chemical reaction. You can memorize facts and forget later, or I can put you inside a chemical reaction. Then you’ll really understand what is happening there. So fundamentally, it’s a better way to teach science.”
Philippov continued, “If you understand how to motivate kids, you’ll really teach them. In science, there is one trick — hands-on experience. They have to see it with their eyes. Then they’ll really fall in love, and you’ll inspire their natural curiosities. If you combine those two together — engagement and using VR — they’ll understand what is happening on a fundamental level. That’s the way to teach science.”
To witness the MEL Chemistry VR app in action, view the video below:
More information on MEL Chemistry VR can be found at the company’s site.
Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].