STEM learning camps brought to life by UNM professor Elan Colello in partnership with VR Junkies at AllOutVR have been put on hold due to lack of participation.
The learning camps were originally scheduled to take place in two different segments between June 19 and 23, and July 17 and 21, but only four students registered for the program.
AllOutVR’s website advertises that “VR Days of Summer is the first STEM-based virtual reality camp in the nation.”
This collaboration between UNM and VR Junkies, while unique and cutting-edge, represents a continuation in a long tradition of using games, simulation and role play to enhance learning.
The curriculum is meant to teach students about “movement, science, design and entertainment” and works to educate participants about “digital literacy, user experience design, ethics and frontier technologies that relate to VR.”
The camp features VR attractions and uses green screen technology and 3D printers to round out the STEM learning experience.
Studies show that activities requiring students to consider the development of their own gaming environments can be especially beneficial for learning tasks.
“I can’t imagine it’s even possible to teach younger students without games,” said Adam Tuck, a UNM alumni currently teaching English to students in Japan. “That’s 90 percent of the job. Even teaching at a University was heavily game-oriented.”
The programs are competitively priced with other VR arcades in the nation, said Ronnie Carrell, an employee at VR Junkies.
Other arcades offer half-day VR experiences for $300, while AllOutVR brought this cost down by approximately 17 percent and offered the half-day program for $249.
The idea may simply be too new for Albuquerque, Carrell said, which could explain the low registration numbers. VR Junkies plans to try advertising the camps again during the coming winter and spring breaks and is optimistic that participation will increase.
Elan Colello could not be contacted in time for this publication.
Ty Knight is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TajMikel.