Cochran Elementary School is home to the state’s first virtual reality lab

JCPS elementary incorporates virtual reality into teaching

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Put yourself into the life of a pro athlete or a skydiver; transport to other states and new countries! It’s all happening from one JCPS elementary classroom.

The virtual lab at Cochran Elementary School is the first one in Kentucky. Shannon Putman, a teacher in residence at Cochran, is the one who brought the idea to her principal for approval.

“I knew it could take our kids places they had never been before,” said Putman.

The school used a grant from the University of Louisville to fund the systems. They cost around $18,000.

“Students who have never been outside of Louisville Metro can now go stand at the top of the Eiffel Tower, they can go to the African American History Museum in Washington, DC,” said Putman. “We can give them experiences that we would never be able to other wise and that’s crucial for our kids.”

A favorite game for 5th graders is Job Simulator. As a store clerk, players are faced with a robbery suspect.

“It actually helps me by making the right decision and actually being a good digital citizen and a citizen in real life,” said Gabrielle, a Cochran student.

One of the games is set in a refugee camp. Fifth grader Keon said he sees his classmates get emotional when they play it.

“You don’t know if your family is going to get home or not, like come grab you and stuff,” Keon said. “It’s sad sometimes. Sometimes you’ll just see people crying under the headset and a tear just falls down.”

Another app, Virtual Speech, allows students to practice communication skills.

“That app virtual speech did a number on my confidence, I went up so much,” said Janiya. “Honestly, if I never used this app I probably would be speechless by now.”

Students will be able to include videos of what they’ve learned in their backpack of skills.

"My motto's always been I don’t change how my kids learn, I change how I teach,” said Putman. “We're hoping that other schools will see that and not only see the benefits educationally but behaviorally. Make school fun and kids learn more."

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