Students turn virtual designs into reality

Students at the La Crosse Design Institute are turning their ideas into reality– virtual reality. The Pump House Regional Arts Center partnered with the middle school in order to bring VR equipment into the classroom so students could build their own dream bedrooms.

The seventh grade students in this STEM class started the unit a few weeks ago by learning how to use the VR gear.

“Then they created their designs and came to me with sketches of what they wanted to do,” said teacher Maggie McHugh.

Once inside the program, the students were able to create bedroom items that they might not be able to make with cardboard.

“You can make things that don’t exist, such as a sculpture or a unique table or my unique lamp,” said Faith Yang, a seventh grade student in the class.

In order to bring these pieces to life, they set a scale for their dioramas so the items are the perfect size.

“We had to go on the internet and find four examples of furniture in real life and then scale that down and convert to metric,” said another seventh grade student.

From there, the designs were sent down the hall to the school’s 3-D printers and made to their individual scale.

Lukas Von Weiss said he did a similar project last year on the architecture of playgrounds– but adding in virtual reality brought it to another level.

“It’s just like all around you and it’s awesome because you can make and design, and move and edit. It’s just a whole other experience,” Von Weiss said.

While his teacher, Maggie McHugh, doesn’t know what careers will be available when they graduate, the unit is bound to help.

“I know these students are developing skills of resiliency and perseverance and creativity. That’s going to be needed for the jobs they’re going to have in their futures,” McHugh said.

The school will return the technology to the Pump House at the end of the week.