Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lessons that Come to Life

by TFK Kid Reporter Brennan LaBrie

How would you like to fly through the Grand Canyon? Or shoot through space among meteors? Or take an adventure through the human body? This is what some elementary school students in Dallas, Texas, get to do in their classes. They watch 3D movies that go with many of their lessons.

How Did They Do That?

A special projector makes the lessons come to life with the help of a computer chip about the size of a quarter. The chip, made by Texas Instruments, can power movies as large as those in IMAX theaters and as small as the images on a cell phone. The chip is called a DLP chip.

The DLP chip is made up of many tiny mirrors on microscopic hinges. The mirrors reflect light in a special way to create an image that seems real enough to touch. If you’ve seen movies like Avatar or How to Train your Dragon, then you’ve seen 3D in action. Lessons in 3D can turn learning into an adventure.

The Next Best Thing is To Being There

At Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet School in Dallas, Texas, four classes have 3D projectors. The students look forward to the lessons and say that they remember them better than non-3D lessons. “It’s easier to learn because you remember all the stuff that you did better, because it's funner to learn,” said Tom Isaac Mark, a third-grader at the school.

The teachers at Hamilton Park had good things to say about this new edition to their classrooms too. They say that students of all different learning capabilities can enjoy and appreciate the 3D lessons. Brittany Russo teaches third grade. She pointed out that the most advanced students in her class are no longer bored and the students who struggle with subjects are able to grasp them better now. The 3D movies are such a hit that sometimes kids ask for an extra lesson as a reward for good work.

Students wear special 3D glasses to watch the lessons, which range from science to architecture to math and more. Some lessons take students on a field trip to faraway places that they might never go to. “It’s a lot of fun to watch the students have fun,” Russo told TFK.

Vera Johnson, a 5th-grade science teacher, said that she enjoys the science and math lessons best. She pointed out that students who get to see a 3D prism from all sides understand the concept quicker. She also likes the videos about outer space. “You can’t really go up and see the solar system,” she said, “but that this is the next best thing.”