Using modern technology to learn about the distant past. That’s what they’re doing in Maria Mairajuddin’s science class at Glades Middle School.
“This is an extinct animal, it’s name is the dodo bird,” Mairajuddin said to the class as she gestured to the smart board.
However, this lesson goes far beyond the standard smart board technology. The seventh graders are in the brand-new Verizon Innovative Learning Lab, the first of its kind in Broward County Public Schools.
“So I’m gonna scan this table right here and put the dodo bird on your table,” Mairajuddin says to the students, all of whom are sitting in groups at lab tables.
Get South Florida local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC South Florida newsletters.
Through the magic of something called a Merge Cube, a life-size dodo bird appears in 3D on their devices.
“Not only will a child understand the component of the lesson better, but they’re getting infused with technology which is the 21st century, when our students leave Glades Middle they are not only introduced to technology but a lot of them are leaving certified in the industry,” said Valerie Crawford-Meyer, the teacher who wrote the grant application which lured in the innovation lab.
The room has a row of 3D printers, more than a dozen Oculus virtual reality goggles, and an augmented reality system as well. It allows the kids to delve deeply into a subject in a way that excites them.
“For example,” Crawford-Meyer said, “For example, a cell, you can now see inside the workings of a cell.”
“It’s really cool that technology has gotten this far,” said Brianna Johnson, one of the students who were getting their first taste of the new equipment.
How does this compare to a traditional lesson?
“Well in a book you can only imagine what things look like but with this device you can really see it and get a real feel for it,” said student Sophia Werba.
They’re using a special curriculum to take advantage of all the technology. It was designed at Arizona State University. All the gadgets, gizmos and electronics are provided free by Verizon.
“It creates a spark, it creates a sense of inspiration and that, that you can’t measure that on an FSA, you can’t measure it on a standardized test,” said principal Carlos Santana.
The future of classroom instruction is here now at Glades Middle School in Miramar.