The “Future of Education” Looks A Lot Like A Virtual Reality Video Game

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - It looks like something out of a video game, but it's the latest way students are learning in the classroom.

Huntsville Middle School's SMAL Lab (Situation, Multimedia Arts Learning Laboratory) is the future of education.

The darkened room, with lime green walls and neon light up benches, serves as an interactive learning lab.

"The lights around us are infrared cameras that pick up the motion of this wand," said Principal Aaron King. That signal is picked up by the computer, the computer tells the system where the wand is in three dimensional space and that controls the scenarios.."

The SMAL Lab utilizes game technology, projecting graphs and games onto the floor.

When WHNT News 19 visited the lab on Thursday, the students were tracking constant velocity by holding the wands and walking along a track calculating their speed.

The data was then immediately transferred to a graph, projected next to the track, teaching students how to graph constant velocity.

Their teacher then asked the 8th graders to determine what the mathematical equation that corresponded with the graph would look like.

"It was pretty cool, how the wand controlled everything on the floor," said Nathan Reed, an 8th grade student at Huntsville Middle. It was his first time learning in the lab.

Across the school there is another unique learning opportunity for students. Project Lead the Way allows students to design and create on 3D printers.

Currently the students are making a cup with holes near the rim. It's a puzzle, requiring the students to figure out how to drink from the cup without spilling the water.

"It takes about 11 hours to print this one," said King.

A champion of the program is State Board of Education Member, Mary Scott Hunter.

"We've had a lot of conversations about minimum standards, and that's great, we should be meeting and exceeding those, but what we're seeing today is the future of education," said Hunter. "Books should always be a component of education, but this 3D printing, this is what I'm excited about. This is how our students are going to be able to get jobs in a global economy."

Huntsville Middle School is the only school in the South to have a SMAL Lab, and one of the only schools in the district to utilize 3D printing technology at this time.

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