MEL Science is launching its first virtual reality (VR) chemistry lessons. The MEL Chemistry VR app, which features a virtual chemistry lab, is now available for Google Daydream. The free version containing the first six lessons is available on their website.
VR provides new science education opportunities that teachers could previously only dream about. Chemistry is filled with abstract concepts that can be difficult for young students to grasp. The best way for kids to learn is through interaction, so MEL Science developed these chemistry lessons to bring molecular level science to life – and students could be seeing them in their classrooms soon. The lessons follow K–12 curricula, and they are designed to be used at home or in the classroom. A special version for educators will be released soon.
With these first lessons, students will see what it’s like to dive into a pencil or a diamond and discover what it looks like at an atomic level. They’ll learn about basic chemistry concepts in an interactive, friendly way, including topics such as:
- The difference between solids and gases
- The structure of an atom
- What an electron orbital is
- What an isotope is
Students will also get the chance to build an atom of any known element with their own hands.
MEL Science plans to release more than 150 lessons covering all the main topics included in schools’ chemistry curricula. MEL Science also plans to add support for other VR platforms, including Google Cardboard and Samsung GearVR, later this year.
Where VR is irreplaceable is in showing kids invisible science, such as placing them inside a chemical reaction, where molecules fly all around them and they see how those molecules interact with each other – Vassili Philippov, CEO of MEL Science
“Where VR is irreplaceable is in showing kids invisible science, such as placing them inside a chemical reaction, where molecules fly all around them and they see how those molecules interact with each other. We can let kids play with atomic orbitals and encourage them to touch the orbitals, build their own atoms and molecules, and see what happens.”
Vassili Philippov, CEO of MEL Science, says that VR isn’t meant to replace hands-on lessons, but to teach pupils the ‘invisible science’ that is difficult to show in a lab.
“Yes, VR can be used to simulate a real lab, so instead of using real chemicals, test tubes, and burners, you use virtual ones. However, this is not where VR can bring the most value to science education. Real hands-on experiments are more engaging for kids. Nothing can replace the feeling of doing something yourself. You see science. You touch science. You smell science,” he said.