Feb 19, 2017 | By Benedict

Matthew L Faerber, director of the Visual World Investigate Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, has built a set of 3D printed virtual reality / augmented reality headsets that he uses to demonstrate the effects of climate change.

The Visual World Investigate Lab (VisLab), located at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, NC, is simultaneously a makerspace, a public outreach tool, and a classroom for children and teachers. Visited by around 2,000 visitors a month, including both students and museum-goers, the space uses a number of cutting-edge, interactive teaching techniques to engage young learners with a wide range of scientific subjects.

Matthew L Faerber, director of VisLab, had been wanting to teach a class on Climate Change at the lab for a long time, but didn’t have the tools he wanted to keep middle-school and high-school kids interested in the ins and outs of greenhouse gases and rising water levels. That was until he developed a set of 3D printed VR/AR headsets that could let students step onto a melting Polar ice cap.

According to Faerber’s website, the lab director wanted to create “an experience that [students] would remember and learn from.” The special 3D printed VR headsets can be used to let students explore remote locations and visualize certain phenomena in virtual or augmented reality, helping solidify their understanding of climate change, what it is, and why it is happening.

“The goal is to not only give students a firm understanding of the topic in general, but to also show them there are many ways in which they contribute to the field of climate science as adults,” Faerber’s website states.

The 3D printed headsets were designed using Blender 3D modeling software, and 3D printed on a MakerBot 3D printer. The VR headsets, which don’t look quite as polished as commercial products like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, are powered by Arduino microcontrollers, and contain a number of electronic components from Adafruit. (The headsets were also designed with the help of Adafruit’s open-source headset project, and Faerber returned the favor by participating in one of the website’s recent Show And Tell Google+ hangouts.)

Since opening in 2011, the Visual World Investigate Lab has grown in popularity, and now consists of twelve computer stations with special screens, equipment for 3D printing and modeling, a range of robotics hardware, and much more. The lab hosts classes and talks, both for school groups and the general public.

Faerber has a bachelors degree in Environmental Science, and held several environmental and ecological positions before joining the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to lead the Visual World Investigate Lab.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Matthew Faerber wrote at 2/22/2017 4:13:35 PM:

Thank you for the article! For more information you can check out my website at www.matthewfaerber.com and twitter at www.twitter.com/matthewlfaerber .

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