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Students learn with 'virtual painting'

By Jim Conrad
Published On: Jan 22 2013 04:23:46 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 22 2013 04:36:52 PM CST
3d
CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. -

What happens when virtual reality meets the real classroom? A lot of learning takes place, that's what. That's especially true in the technical fields.

Unaka High School's collision repair classes have a new learning tool that lets students paint a car without actually painting a car. It may look like a new video game, but in fact its a new learning tool for the class.

It's a virtual painting booth for vehicles. Needless to say, the students love it. "It's pretty much like you're really painting. I love painting, it actually helps you out a little bit," sophomore Lee Bennett says.

The virtual painting booth does give the students a lot of practice; for the school, it saves money. "We don't have to buy paint. They can paint different parts of the vehicle daily, whereas if they were ina paint booth they might only get to do that once a week or [every] two weeks," says Career and Technical Director Mickey Taylor.

The developers of this system have brought as much of the real thing to it as possible. "Even the gunning vibrates to simulate the air going through it. You set your nozzle up the same as you would back there in the paint bay. So it's awful close to the real thing," teacher Phillip Taylor said.

It even tells you what you're doing right or wrong almost instantly, which helps the students. "So if I know what my grade is when I'm doing it, I can do it better. I know what I'm messing up on and can do it right," junior Kayla Cochran said.

"When you paint it shows your thick spots, your light spots and it shows your good spots. That's the cool thing about it," adds sophomore Logan Blevins.

And why not practice in a virtual world rather than using someone's car for practice?