Reimagining the Textbook with Virtual Reality
By Ishani A. and Reyna R.
As high school students, we have been frustrated with how our school’s reliance on traditional textbooks has limited our learning. And we know from our fellow students, as well as our research into learning types — of which only 1 of 4 are well-served by reading textbooks alone — that we aren’t alone.
That frustration is what drove us to dream up the concept for ScintillaVR, a platform for teachers to create virtual reality experiences to bring textbook lessons to life. Unlike other VR companies in education that are trying to create all their own content, we harness a tool called Unreal Engine to give teachers the power to create and curate their own virtual reality lessons. The resulting VR experiences are complete with beautiful, interactive environments, explanatory in-app reading material, and quizzes. Knowing that many of our fellow students already use VR but that very few have had the chance to use it to enhance their education, we were excited to bring the power of virtual reality into the classroom.
In May, we pitched our company at the Conrad Challenge’s 2020 Summit and were awarded the Power Pitch prize. Every year, the Challenge brings together high school teams from across the country to pitch their innovative business ideas. This was our second year participating in the Challenge; last year, when we presented live in London, we used a SMART Board to survey the students in the audience in real-time about their learning styles, which helped make our case to the judges that Scintilla addresses a real need.
Competing in the Conrad Challenge during this period of pandemic and quarantine wasn’t easy. We were both under shelter-in-place starting March 13th, and it was hard to make time to connect to plan our presentation while juggling schoolwork and other online meetings. But we did manage to complete our video pitch, and we actually came up with new ideas for our product that we wouldn’t have thought of if not for the quarantine. We also benefited from speaking with Conrad alumni and from the judges’ feedback, which helped us identify the need to add a teacher community element to our app. This summer, we brought aboard our first group of high school interns, who we’re working with to create new content for the platform, and we’ve been making connections with textbook companies to explore partnerships.
Going forward, we’re excited about the challenge of juggling our work with Scintilla while we start our senior years of high school and begin applying to college. Even with the time crunch we feel to make progress on the app before the summer ends, we feel incredibly motivated to transform high school learning and make the company a success. And we’re glad that the Conrad Challenge helped motivate us to think outside the box about how we can make a real impact on the world.
Reyna Rajkumar – HI! My name is Reyna Rajkumar and I am currently a Senior at Mission San Jose High School in the Bay Area. I am very interested in entrepreneurship, innovation, and computer science. In college, I hope to pursue a career in computer science and in the future hope to work at a tech company.
Ishani Ashok – Hi! My name is Ishani Ashok and I am also currently a senior at Mission San Jose High School, in the Bay Area, California. My interests include marketing, finance, entrepreneurship and innovation. I joined the Conrad Challenge in hopes of learning new skills in business and marketing.
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