Prisms of Reality Aims to Inspire Students with VR Math Functions

by Anastasia Deripaska

Prisms of Reality Aims to Inspire Students with VR Math Functions

For most students, math is an all or nothing proposition.
You either love it and have the capability to make numbers dance around your laptop screen, notebook, or chalkboard, or you hate it and those numbers add up into a waking nightmare for you during your daily lessons.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been something of a working math lesson for the past year-and-a-half, teaching students about exponential growth rates, bell curves, medians, and a host of other terms typically left for the world of the hypothetical. Still, the gap between what we can quantify in a classroom and what our eyes see is a giant gap, and it keeps a lot of children from being able to understand and appreciate math as anything more than numbers on a board.

That idea has led to a change in educational technology that moves math from a two-dimensional process to a three-dimensional one using immersive technology.
The key is to teach math the way that many sciences are being taught now - by touching, perceiving, and moving items in the real world.
One such idea comes from the company Prisms of Reality, which uses virtual reality (VR) technology to bring math into the three-dimensional world that more students are comfortable with. 

Real-world environments

Instead of trying to teach abstract concepts, Prisms of Reality emerges students into real-world environments to teach math concepts. In line with COVID-19, students see representations of themselves in the goggles and watch how quickly COVID spreads through their bodies as its number of virus cells grows and grows.
This gives a first-person, and rather chilling, look at how powerful numbers can accelerate exponentially.
The exercise then switches to a few hospitals in the fictional area and how quickly they fill up with patients, which they can then extrapolate how long it will take them to get a bed in a hospital to get treated.

From there, the chase is on to get enough turnover in those who need to be vaccinated, getting people in and out of hospitals, and creating charts, graphs, and infographics that allow for a lot more of a hands-on feel than most math lessons will allow.
This is problem-based learning, which has been a part of math for decades, if not centuries. The difference for the Prism technique is that now students are actually experiencing the problem instead of merely trying to experience it intellectually.
Putting the situation all around them instead of on a two-dimensional screen or surface gives more purpose and emotional resonance that students can take with them far beyond the classroom. The extra layer of real-world immersion is a great way to get students more interested in the STEM professional subjects (Science, Engineering, Technology, Mathematics) by giving them an up-close look at how vital these areas are at solving very real-world problems, ones that can have a huge impact on the rest of the world.