Circuits, magnets, and VR lead to student learning takeover at Lay

Mrs. Davis is shown adjusting the VR headset for a student.

When you step into Cathy Davis’ science classroom at Jesse D. Lay Elementary you quickly realize that it is not your common way of teaching and learning.

Beyond the young minds making their way around the room working on projects, you will find Davis, in the corner blended in with her students, adjusting one student’s virtual reality headset.

“They got a quick taste when we were in the human body because I had begun to use and explore it,” said Davis referring to the virtual reality activity that one group of students were engaged in.

Seconds later, Davis made her way to another table as two students were working on testing three different circuits they learned about in class.  The students had to explain to Davis the notes they were making about the various configurations.  At the same time, you look at the other corner of the room and you will find principal Keith Broughton has walked in and joined a group that is also learning about circuits.

In the back of the room, another group of students is learning about magnets as they hold up various round and flat shaped items from a cardboard box.  One student could be seen with his magnetic wand under the table to see if it would move items on top.

Three learning stations, over twenty students fully engaged, and it’s a typical day in Davis’ classroom.

“The three activities were really all tied together,” said Davis.  “One station had students building and testing three different circuits that we learned about in class, the other two stations were actually on the same subject of magnets.  In one, students were exploring the way that magnets work by building claims about why they could hold more than one item vs. another one side of the magnetic paddle.  They were testing out their claims to see if they proved to be true.

“The other station was virtual reality and this was their first time exploring this learning style.”

The students reflected on what they learned at the end of class.  Here’s what a few had to say:

They (the VR headsets) were really cool and I saw a hospital’s batteries and magnets.  I hope to do this another day because it was really fun and while you are having fun, you also learn too!

I saw the earth as all inner crust, outer crust, inner core, outer core, and the center.

I like the VR headset because it is 3D and it is cool.  My question is how does it work?  One thing I didn’t like is it is so slow, but I love you Ms. D and thank you for letting us have the ability to learn.  Oh, and did I say it was soooo cool.”

I want to do more stuff like this in the classroom and show my sister some things like this.  I like the headphones and I want her to learn more things like this so my sister will love to learn things.

I saw a lot of pictures that helped me picture what was happening and learn what it was telling me.  I saw the battery wrapped around a screw to make an electromagnet and I thought it was fun.

I thought the VR is really cool and I learned more things about magnets, batteries and it is a fun way to learn.

One student provided a written response and illustration:

A student wrote his reflection that it was cool and provided an illustration of the earth and it's core.