SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Dissecting a frog in bio class may become a thing of the past

BY Briana Vannozzi, Correspondent |

Alex Rak might be standing in front of people, but the high school student is suspended above earth. She’s on a critical mission and nothing is standing between her and the universe, except the virtual reality headset taking her there.

“There’s games, there’s esports, the education part — obviously what we’re focused on today — is huge for us. We really want to be able to deliver immersive content for education,” said Todd Schobel, managing partner and co-founder of virtual reality firm, OasisVRX.

They call them virtual reality experiences. The demo is part of a nationwide traveling tour by Intel. A mobile tech learning lab is temporarily posted at Bell Works in Holmdel. Wednesday, students from Middle Township High School were visiting from Camden County.

“Essentially what we’re doing is showing how virtual reality, augmented reality, AI, IOT, all these technologies that are coming forward, how do they allow educators, as well as students, both to utilize them to get a leg up on learning,” said Raj Puran, director of client VR business development and strategic partnerships for Intel.

The VR stations host exhibits from museums, STEM labs with all the works, puzzles and mazes. It’s hard to imagine, but this is how classrooms could look in the future.

“We brought some of our chemistry students, our robotic students, those that were into technology. The dissection piece was really a great opportunity for those guys,” said Toni Lehman, director of curriculum and instruction for Middle Township Schools.

Like the frog you dissected in school, with nose plugged from the smell of formaldehyde? They’ve got that.

“In a way better because it’s the idea that it’s fake, so it’s just easier to dissect it. And it’s not disgusting to sit in a classroom and dissect a real frog. It tells you info about each part of the body, and what you’re dissecting and how to do it. It’s really, really cool,” said Middle Township High School senior Christopher Miner.

Intel teamed up with Schobel for this site visit. Schobel is opening OasisVRX at Bell Labs. A permanent site so that schools, businesses and families can purchase time to use VR classrooms and equipment for education and entertainment.

“There’s a study out there right now where it states traditional learning, lecture-based 5 percent retention rate, reading 10 percent retention rate. When you use the method of VR, 70 percent retention rates,” said Schobel.

The hope is, future med and biology students will use programs like these as an aide in the classroom. The tour will continue from East Coast to west with about a dozen stops through the end of year, bringing a world that feels so big up close.