Cypress Trails Elementary School is an E-STEM Choice School in Royal Palm Beach, Florida. The school has a unique STEM curriculum, now in its second year of use, that focuses heavily on STEM subjects and literacy. To dive deeper into STEM content, all students at the school have access to a STEM lab featuring zSpace augmented and virtual reality (AR & VR) technology.
Cypress Trails Principal Shari Bremekamp, Ed.S., was introduced to zSpace by a district colleague who had recently implemented the technology at a nearby school. At first, she was not convinced that an AR/VR solution would work in the classroom. But after seeing the immersive 3D content and activities in person, she knew that zSpace was a great fit for her students.
“The best part about zSpace is that the lessons tie into the standards,” said Bremekamp. It was also important that the technology help to make real world connections for students. 76% of the students at Cypress Trails are eligible for free or reduced lunch, and the immersive zSpace environment gives them experiences they may not otherwise have.
To get zSpace to Cypress Trails, Bremekamp had to be creative in finding funds. She was able to finance the zSpace systems with funding from her After Care program and by putting the systems in a shared space, the zSpace lab could be used by everyone at the school. “All students have access to the lab! Everyone benefits,” she said.
Bremekamp warns that it is important to get buy-in when implementing new technology. Before making a purchasing decision, zSpace was introduced to a group of teachers to see if they would actually use it in the classroom. She advises that schools “really have a plan and know how you are going to use this technology. Ask: can this make a real world connection?” Technology itself does not make learning happen; teachers must be given time and training to plan how they are going to teach in the zSpace lab.
The zSpace lab at Cypress Trails is an evolving space. The school started with just a couple of zSpace systems, and grew to a lab of 10 systems over time. With a full lab, teachers can use a small groups teaching model. For example, when learning about the human body, students were split into three rotational groups: one group worked on literacy exercises, one group experienced the content in 3D with zSpace, and one group created a hands on model. zSpace is the piece that makes the real world connection.
Since the opening of the zSpace lab, student feedback has been positive. “It doesn't matter their achievement level - every single child is engaged. Every single child loves it,” said Bremekamp.
Want to learn more about other Florida schools using zSpace? Check out this video.