iNNOVATE Labs Introduce Students to VR, 3D Printers
Funded by the district’s education foundation, San Luis Coastal Unified School District’s iINNOVATE program gives elementary students hands-on experience with coding, robotics, 3D printing and other technologies.
Mackenzie Shuman, The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
(TNS) — A little more than a dozen first-grade students sat in a group on the floor of a classroom at Sinsheimer Elementary School in San Luis Obispo on Tuesday morning.
“What animal are we looking at?” asked their teacher, Jessica Keach.
“Giraffes!” the young students exclaimed as they watched a pair of the African animals through immersive virtual reality goggles.
The first graders also used the VR goggles to see octopuses camouflage themselves to avoid their predators and learn how crocodiles’ tough, scaly skin can protect them from most bites.
Earlier that morning, a class of fifth-grade students used the same technology lab to create computer codes that would dictate a robot’s movements, create stop-motion videos with clay figures, draft intricate designs that a laser cut on wood panels or plan the next item they wanted to construct with the 3D printer.
The immersive iINNOVATE Lab at Sinsheimer Elementary is one of 10 across each San Luis Coastal Unified School District’s elementary school in the county. It’s part of a new initiative funded through the district’s education foundation
The Harold J. Miossi Charitable Trust made a $1.1 million gift to kickstart the initiative, and the San Luis Coastal Education Foundation has garnered another $500,000 from private donors to ensure all of its elementary schools can have the labs.
The iINNOVATE program started during the COVID-19 pandemic, and students picked up kits to take home with directions on how to build light circuits or program a robot. That program was honored by the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction as a 2022 California Pivotal Practice Award recipient.