Edutainment video game developer Schell Games launched a new virtual reality title on Tuesday that can teach chemistry to players without the risk of spilled beakers or singed eyebrows.
“HoloLAB Champions” for HTC Vive takes place in a virtual game show where contestants complete experiments using real lab skills. Players score achievements based on their ability to perform tasks safely and accurately. There’s also a practice mode where they can hone their skills before tackling challenges.
While “HoloLAB Champions” is a single-player title, Schell Games said it’s designed to be used in a classroom setting. One student can play the game while others observe, provide assistance, and take notes. The teacher, meanwhile, gives guidance and feedback. It has two, 30-40 minute episodes that teach players basic lab skills, procedures, and protocols. The first episode, Chemiluminescence, shows students how to mix correct amounts of liquid and solid ingredients. The second episode, Identify Unknowns, gives students a set of substances and, with limited reference information, asks them to correctly identify each one.
“With a few exceptions, typical classrooms haven’t changed much since our parents were in school,” said Dr. Brooke Morrill, Director of Education at Schell Games. “As technology becomes more powerful and a larger part of our everyday lives, supporting classrooms in harnessing unique, effective tools to meet the needs of today’s students is essential. With ‘HoloLAB Champions,’ we are offering an innovative way for students to learn the basics of lab practice while also providing educators with resources for incorporating this game into their classrooms.”
Schell Games teamed up with chemistry and education experts to create “HoloLAB Champions” content. It also developed the game iteratively with students, educators, and the RAND Corporation. The project was funded in part by a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education. It’s available now on Steam for $9.99. It’s free for teachers, students, and educational facilities. Anyone who wants to request an educational copy can do so at HoloLABChampions.com.