zSpace for Education
zSpace is an immersive, 3-D environment that produces high definition images using stereoscopic glasses and a standard desktop screen. The glasses are lightweight and enable a parallax view as the user moves his head. A stylus provides "6 degrees of freedom" while manipulating moveable objects (zSpace, Inc., 2015).
Six Degrees of Freedom
Source: Wikimedia Commons
zSpace and STEM
zSpace offers registered schools access to STEM education lesson plans and virtual classroom materials in the areas of Earth and Space Science, Life Science, Physical Science, and Social Studies. Lessons are available for grades 3-8 and are aligned with both the Common Core Standards and a number of state standards.
Sharing with the Class: zView
zView is complementary software for zSpace that enables the user to share the 3-D experience on a SMARTboard. This provides learners with the benefits of demonstration by the teacher or a peer.
From inner space (biology) to outer space (the constellations), zSpace teaches STEM subjects with full-color, realistic renderings. The result is a life-like and engaging lesson for the student. zSpace also provides training and support for the teacher in order to guarantee that its program is a success.
zSpace can also be used as a 3-D modeling tool. An object can be scanned, witha resulting a 3-D picture on the monitor screen. This picture can be manipulated in zSpace and then the object or design printed on a 3-D printer. The creative and engineering applications of this tool are manifold.
About the Company
zSpace, founded in 2007, is a privately held computer hardware company with 200 employees. zSpace offices are located in Sunnyvale, CA. Approximately 21 authorized resellers make this product highly accessible across the U.S. and around the world (Linkedin, 2015).
Virtual Reality in the Classroom
Ainge (1996) notes that one of the advantages of the integration of virtual learning space with face-to-face learning is that the student cannot remain passive. For the learner this means "modifying the world as well as moving through it...picking up and moving objects...it is up to the individual to decide how to explore and which changes to make (p. 346). Aigne also found that students were highly motivated by the use of virtual reality tools in their science and mathematics study.
The primary limation for using this system is its cost, approximately $4000 (Johnson, 2013). This might be prohibitive for schools.