By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

WAKEFIELD (CBS) — The virtual world is now a reality in the classroom at Northeast Regional Vocational High School in Wakefield thanks to zSpace Technology.

“I see it inspire kids. Here it allows them free will of creativity and that’s fascinating. You’re going to see the ‘wow’ on these students’ faces. To me, that’s what’s moving,” says Sean Callanan, the department head of drafting, manufacturing, and STEM.

Walking around the classroom, you see students completely engaged with their computer screens, while trying to build a virtual engine. Students wear 3-D glasses, and use a stylus to move virtual parts around the virtual workroom.

The program allows for what they call “noble failure.” Students can try something with a motor or a battery, make a mistake, and then they can simply try again.

“This is so virtual the kids and the technology think they are real. So, you get the real outcome that you would have got without the setback of injury, if you will,” Callanan says.

The content and curriculum is supplied by zSpace, but it can be tailored to fit the needs of any class. That customization, combined with the cool factor, can create a truly original lesson plan.

“That’s what it’s all about: getting kids engaged and wanting to learn,” says Lisa Grippo of zSpace.

The technology is not cheap. Northeast Regional spent about $60,000 for the system, and it allows the students to work with things the school wouldn’t be able to afford.

“That’s a fact,” Callanan says. “There’s so much, there’s thousands of different learning lessons in there that allow us to do things … we don’t have the storage for, let alone the money to support.”

From mechanics to anatomy, zSpace can immerse the student into nearly any virtual world. And starting this year, every freshmen class at Northeast Regional will be introduced to learning in 3-D.

If you have a story you think should be featured in our Eye On Educationicon1 Eye On Education: Wakefield Vocational Students Embracing Virtual Reality Program series, email us at: EyeOnEducation@cbs.com.

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