Elizabethton High School providing students with a glimpse of the future

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ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) A new virtual reality program is putting one Tri-Cities high school on the map.

Elizabethton High School is providing its students with a glimpse of the future, by exposing them to virtual worlds. Virtual Reality 1 is a course being offered this semester.

The high school is one of ten schools in the nation to have this kind of program. It will enhance learning by allowing students to have more than just a paper and pencil type of learning.

“With these new computers we just expand our world completely,” student Cameron Smith said. “Different experiences you can go through, different games you can play. A lot of educational stuff. They can go inside a cell, they can go inside a human body.”

Leave your textbooks and pens at the door when entering Mr. Clevinger’s virtual reality class.

“The kids can actually dive in and get a cool learning experience. Put a headset on and go inside of a cell or see the beating of a heart, dissect a molecule, split an atom,” Computer science teacher Jason Clevinger said.

Students take on adventures like traveling under water, back in time, exploring human anatomy and even building video games.

Student Tyler Johnson said, “I’m working on a video game that invovles simple pickup and drop missions, so you’re basically going to go fighting through this small little town I’m working on. It’s kind of abandoned and destroyed into a crater.”

Johnson explained that the class allows him to exercise his creativity.

“In this game, really working on the fundamental design, just opening up your creativity. It’s not like any other class. This is you,” Johnson said.

The students will gain an understanding and appreciation for technology in a new way by being exposed to various virtual worlds, according to Elizabethton High School public relations coordinator Nicole Moore.

Students will discover pathways such as coding using C++ and Java, as well as understanding techniques and strategies of digital arts and media.

“I originally thought I wanted to go to a website and get into that industry but, VR has kind of been an eye-opener and that kind of just realized that it’s just more of a vast open field that I can go into,” student Dylan Williams said.

By the end of the course, Clevinger hopes this class will prepare students for college and the workforce.

“They go to undergrad school and a professor says, ‘have yall ever used on ‘real engine?’ Three or four kids are going to raise their hand. It’d be the kids from Elizabethton High School that have been exposed to that and that’s something that very few kids can say on a high school level,” Clevinger said.

He has taken note of students more eager to learn in his classroom.

Clevinger said, “My third period class is actually my Virtual Reality 1 class, I actually have kids showing up to class early and staying late after class on most because they’re so engrossed in the projects that they’re working.”

The course has become quite popular in its first semester that students are now required to take a computer science course as a prerequisite to VR 1.

“That more less just teaches them the vocab and the structure of what it is they’ll be using real engine four. The rendering of photos, the code itself, the blueprints,” Clevinger said.

Once the course ends, students will create a personal portfolio with projects and designs that will show industry leaders the skills they hold.

An open house will take place this Thursday, which is exclusive to only certain staff. An official open house will take place for everyone at a later time.

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