(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Students at Palmer High School can enroll in a work-based course that gives them an internship-like experience.
Students began working on virtual reality software incorporating displays at the Space Foundation.
“We’re using the Microsoft HoloLens 2 and we had those donated by the U.S. Navy,” said Sean Wybrant, Teacher at Palmer High School. “And we were having conversations with the Space Foundation about, well, how could we make space accessible for other people? And they said ‘well, what can your kids make?’ And I said, ‘my kids can make all kinds of things.’ So that’s how it kind of worked out.”
The course teaches students what working in a technology role would be like in creating projects and designs for clients.
“Having the Space Foundation being an actual client for us has allowed us to have real-life experiences that we wouldn’t usually have outside of school,” said Samantha Manuszak, Senior at Palmer High School. “We do projects for them. So they contact us and they ask us [to] do projects they work on helping us fundraise and stuff.”
Students could experience first-hand the virtual reality world and see their work shown right in front of their eyes.
“So the fact that it’s like not fully discovered excites me because it’s an opportunity, because I can do whatever I want,” said Keyshawn Burgess, Senior at Palmer High School. “Like, there’s not many professionals in these fields, and this is my time to strike and see what I can make out of it.”
On Nov. 2, students’ software design work was recognized at the Unity for Humanity Global Summit.
“One of the representatives from Unity actually came out to see what the kids were working on. They were really inspired by what the kids were doing,” said Wybrant. “And so they actually asked the kids to present during the summit that they had last week where the summit was all about like social impact and how people are using unity for good.”
Manuszak said it was cool to do the presentation and talk about what the future of education and technology can be.
“A lot of the times people don’t listen to kids about that because we’re just kids,” said Manuszak. “But being able to do that, it showed the fact that some people are willing to listen to what kids have to say about our future and allow us to build it instead of just tell us that we have to wait till we’re older to do it.”
Burgess shared that with college on the horizon, this course has helped him be prepared to explore his passion for the space world.
“Knowing that I have the space knowledge personally and I have the computer opportunity and I’m going to a college that is also tech-based is really exciting because like not everyone gets to fully do what they want to,” said Burgess.
A local business, Crafting Heroes, collaborates with the work-based learning course to help students have access to technology. The business is fundraising to provide students with access to software licenses and technology hardware.
When looking to the future, Wybrant shared an exciting new project that students will be working on in the upcoming weeks at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.
“So the students are going to go in and they’re going to be scanning some of the artifacts,” said Wybrant. “We’re going to be turning that into a VR experience, and then we’re hopefully going to be able to take those artifacts and put some of them online so that people will be able to explore history even from their own Web browsers.”