Bored of textbook physics education? Check out Isaac's Lab! With HTC Vive's virtual reality, the physical concepts which fascinated humans for centuries no longer have to be constrained by ink and paper. Our team hopes to use surreal worlds to give kids a hands-on and "real" experience with basic physics, while exposing them to the math and science at play.
What it does
Issac's Lab simulates classic physics examples such as the ball drop (gravity) and cannon shot (parabolic motion). It takes advantage of the interactive nature of virtual reality for kids to take rare actions or difficult experiments. Seriously, how often does a kid get to shoot a cannon ball for learning velocity?
How we built it
As for our user interface, we used Rhino and 3D Max for modeling. As for the physics within, we wrote every physical interaction with Unity C# script; for example, arrows denoting the forces at work for the cannon shot are calculated and illustrated each frame with a single C# script.
Challenges we ran into
Our biggest challenge was Unity. The majority of our team members did not have experience with the game engine or C#, so it took a while for all of us to get up to speed. The other issue we faced was integration of various components worked by different members. Because Unity does not have a collaboration platform and some members were new to Github, a lot of time was spent on combining scenes.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We all met separately at the team formation. We came together to form a cohesive team build on diverse talents. Learning Unity!
What we learned
Developing for a virtual environment is rewarding and challenging. You can do so much more with an immersive medium, but to do it well you must have a compelling story and follow good design practices.
What's next for Isaac's Lab
We are hoping to add more experiments to Issac's Lab, and to polish off the UI/UX. We also hope to refine the current virtual experiments so that they form a sound instructional course on the equations of motion and then other lesson plans. We will also seek sponsorship to advance our work in support of STEAM education.