Mize introduces VR technology in the classroom

Equipped with VR goggles and a cell phone, the Social Studies Class visits Paris, France, without leaving the classroom.
Staff Writer

Tuesday morning, Bruce Mize's social studies class learned about the French Revolution and visited Paris, France, without ever leaving the classroom.

Virtual reality technology has made its debut at West Point High School.

Mize is already known for taking students to Europe to walk through Auschwitz, the Warsaw Ghetto and to tour Berlin on the Holocaust Tour with EFTOURS.

Now, he is bringing France to the students.

"We are using the VR goggles to visit The Palace of Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors and the city of Paris," Mize said. "Today was the first time we used the goggles. Every student was engaged and on their feet. No one was napping, reading, or doing work for a class other than this one. It was a successful maiden voyage."

Mize said he has been working to bring VR technology to his classroom since August.

"I cannot thank Metro PCS in Columbus at both locations enough for their support in this project," Mize said. "They donated the cell phones we use with the Google Expeditions App. The Virtual Field Trips can be used with so many educational sciences, not just history."

Student Olivia Baird said the experience was absolutely amazing. She is one of the students who will take the D-Day Tour of London, Paris, Belgium and Berlin this summer with Mize.

"I thought the Kings Mansion was unexplainable," Baird said. "It was my favorite thing I saw. I cannot wait to actually go there and see it."

Katherine Elliot thought it was cool to be able to look up and see the sky or look down and see the ground with the VR goggles.

"I thought the VR experience was cool," Rakim Parker said. "I would like to do it again. It was nice getting to experience those different places and learning about them at the same time. I would like to experience Brazil, Cuba and South America."

Ikeria Washington said she enjoyed the VR experience. It gave her a chance to see how these places and things look up close. She said it felt like she was actually there.

"There was a lot of prep work involved to have the equipment ready for my first class," Mize said. "But it was well worth it, The kids were excited about learning. They all seemed to enjoy the first experience with the VR."

Mize said to be able to offer students a technologically-advanced learning environment, there has to be community support.

"Public school funding has been cut again," Mize said. "And a small town like West Point does not have the tax base to give the kids the educational opportunities they need to be competitive. The jobs that are coming need tech skills. We are working with outdated text books that aren't getting our students ready for college."

Mize said he has taken his class completely digital. He is working to be able for each student to have a Chromebook for school work. Everything is saved to the Cloud.

"If we want our kids to succeed, we have to give them the tools they need," Mize said. "Most teachers are spending their own money in the classrooms to try and keep up. We need help if we are to give these kids a chance in a tech-based market."

For more information, email Mize at bruce.mize@westpoint.k12.ms.us