Helping kids learn about emerging technology is a key to the educational process these days. Teachers in Bertrand now have a new tool to put students on the cutting edge, thanks to help from the Bertrand Area Community Fund.
Students at Bertrand Community School are discovering the Microsoft HoloLens. “The HoloLens is a self-contained wireless headset, that has a Windows 10 machine on it, and it allows us to interact and see holograms,” school librarian and tech integration specialist Stephanie Dannehl said. Instructors say what the kids see through the HoloLens is nothing short of mind-blowing. “One of the first things we used it for was the anatomy class last year. We had students learning the systems and body parts. In the text books, it’s hard to really understand how the heart functions. Here, we have apps within the HoloLens where we can put a human body up in the room, or see a heart. They can walk around the heart, they can see it beating, they can walk inside of it so they can really see the valves, and they can see how the blood flows.”
There are a number of major corporations that are using the technology right now. Boeing would be one of them. But there aren’t that many schools using the HoloLens. Bertrand is, and they are utilizing it in a number of ways. Industrial and technology instructor Bill Ford says it’s transformed some of his classes. “Many years ago, I used to teach drafting, and we would have 3-D type presentations with pictorials and that type of thing,” Ford said. Ford remembers moving to computers, with 3-D walk-throughs of house designs. The HoloLens technology takes it all to a new level. “We can design that program, and then we take that building or that house or that condominium, and we can take it into the gymnasium and we can blow it up nearly full size. We can actually walk through that building as though it was a real building,” Ford said. “It brings it all to life.”
High school students are benefiting from the HoloLens, but so are elementary students. “I have some kids that come in during the lunch hour, just because they want to learn with some of this emerging technology,” Dannehl said. Because of this, an after-school technology program was created. “We had 48 students that showed up every week to learn how to design in 3-D using their I-pads. We had 6th graders helping 2nd graders, 2nd graders helping 5th graders, and it was a very cool experience.”
You could certainly says the Bertrand students are enjoying this. “I really like it cause you can go inside a drawing,” elementary student Addy Sand said. “We had a house up the other day during lunch, and we got to go through the doors. So if you go super close to it, you can go through the door and you can go to the laundry room and the dinner room, and I really like working with all of the technology,” Sand said.
The new technology is opening doors, and thanks to funding from the Bertrand Area Community Fund, the school was able to get it. “They applied for a grant, and we thought this was an awesome project that we wanted to be involved in,” community fund member Beverly Hansen said. Because of the fund’s involvement, students can now explore possible careers. “I truly think that the Hololens and mixed reality is going to change education, kind of like the I-pads have. A lot of companies are building content for that. We are preparing kids for the future,” Dannehl said.