Contributed by Allison Toller

Dell Alienware Corporation is fulfilling a moonshot dream for Mount Vernon students. Through an inconceivable partnership, the Fortune 500 company has chosen Mount Vernon to host their one and only flagship virtual reality lab in the country, which will be used to influence learning, through empathy. Upon discovering the incredible impact VR can have in the classroom, MV teacher Marie Graham and a group of students, Justin Blumencranz, Robbie Long, Chris Hardy, Alec Johnson, and Trey Tiffin came up with a wild idea. They wondered…

“What if high school students were given the opportunity to work with leaders in the technology industry, not on school projects, but on projects that have authentic impact and intersect many industries?”

Helping to See the Vision Come to Life

It didn’t take long for their curiosity to become tangible. After conducting extensive research about the industry and exploring how VR could elevate the learning experience of students, Graham introduced herself to VR experts through social media. Connecting on LinkedIn with representatives at Dell Alienware Corporation, she shared her passion and the students’ vision on how a partnership could be a win for all.

In less than nine months, the relationship was conceived, established, and nurtured. Then the VR equipment began arriving.

As a result of Mount Vernon’s national reputation for exploring, discovering, asking and risking, a national technology industry leader was willing to entrust the School to be its extension, where students can conduct real-time VR research. The Mount Vernon/Dell Alienware Virtual Reality Lab is now up and running.

One of the leading VR lab team members is freshman Justin Blumencranz who is beyond excited. “Now that Dell Alienware has sent us the equipment, and gifted us the opportunity to go and make something spectacular as a virtual reality lab at our school, and being the flagship virtual reality lab in the country, we decided we have to take this and make something really special out of it. So, actually I’m already enrolled in the second semester virtual reality elective. It will be one of my periods every day, where I will get to learn about VR, create VR, experience VR, and it’s all thanks to them.”

“It is so exciting to watch our students’ ideas go from dream to reality in partnership with Dell Alienware. Our young entrepreneurs are ready to face current challenges, work with industry leaders, and make an impact in the world right now. We are helping students learn to lead in the newest fields of technology,” shares Marie Graham.

What Impact Lies Ahead?

One of the main goals with the Dell Alienware virtual reality equipment is to provide opportunities for students to connect with various industries to create relevant content. Already Mount Vernon has established a connection with the Center of Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Together with students in the Innovation Diploma program, the VR lab team will be creating content for a new exhibit at the museum about the life of Martin Luther King Jr which will be released in time of the 50th anniversary of his passing.

The Mount Vernon/Dell Alienware Virtual Reality Lab is an extension of the School’s Maker, Design & Engineering Program. One of the most important reasons why Mount Vernon has created and continues to build this program has to do with the School’s fundamental imperative that school should reflect real life.

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