The Tech for STEM team at MSEF created a virtual science fair experience to showcase student projects in the 3D environment of the Roger’s Building at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In six weeks during the summer, the interns were able to brainstorm, plan, collaborate, and create this experience. The focus of the project was to create a more interactive online science fair using virtual reality. Students met weekly with team coordinators and team leads to refine their ideas and to design a way that users could interact with the projects with the ease of their computer or smartphone. Interns were given the option to model their own projects using 3D graphic tools and learned how to use different modeling software. To learn more about the team or the virtual science fair, feel free to explore the website!
Meet the Team
Our team of highly motivated individuals, involving both students and valuable guidance, took on the challenge of using virtual reality and augmented reality to better education in Massachusetts and is excited to share some of the results. Meet the members:
Helen Rosenfeld: Executive Director at MSEF, coordinator of summer internships.
Elizabeth Kronberg: Senior Manager of Administration
Julie Smithson: Co-Founder & Chief of Learning at MetaVRse
Lauren Doty: Manager of Gifts & Grants
Mymoon Bhuiyan: Tech for STEM Team Lead, Sophomore at McMaster University (Material Science and Engineering MSE)
Aakash Sunkari: Tech for STEM intern, Senior at North Attleboro High School
Arnav Mishra: Tech for STEM intern, Junior at the Mass Academy of Math and Science
Helen Liu: Tech for STEM intern, Junior at Shrewsbury High School
Neelasha Bhattacharjee: Tech for STEM intern, Senior at Shrewsbury High School
Shashank Jarmale: Tech for STEM intern, Senior at Billerica Memorial High School
Shravya Anisetti: Tech for STEM intern, Junior at the Mass Academy of Math and Science
To create interactivity and overall immersive experience, the Tech for STEM team aimed to primarily focus on virtual environments and separate project displays with various tools. Interns first used Blender, a computer software designed for creating 3D visuals, to make the MIT Hall and project booth environments. Team members were also given the option to model their individual projects, many of which fell into the engineering category.
Through A-Frame, a form of WebVR, students were able to give the 3D environments some functionality. For instance, visitors could have the ability to easily move through projects and the MIT hall. As soon as visitors enter the MIT Hall, they can navigate to different project booths. From there, they can press various icons to navigate through specific students’ science fair projects.
Some future extensions and goals for the Tech for STEM team, specifically focusing on mixed reality environments, include making the virtual fair compatible with Google Cardboard and expanding the service to students all across Massachusetts to provide access to their own personal online booths, as well as providing guides for this process. The overall hope is for virtual reality to enable an immersive online experience in future fairs and potentially become more common.