The art of making plans has gone numb over these past few weeks. A “fluid situation” means anything can change (or cancel) at any minute. COVID-19 has drastically impacted our country’s health and economy, and it’s drastically impacted you (yes, you reader!) and the routine you once carried out a few weeks ago. For those celebrating milestones this year, this virus has wrecked those plans, especially for high schoolers and their spring semester.
For high school students, this semester is all about anticipation: prom, sports championships, finishing academics, forming summer plans, and perhaps picturing life as a college freshman while on a college tour with family. While most of these high school moments have been disrupted, perhaps students can still experience that feeling of touring a college campus while staying “socially distant” in their homes.
This is the purpose of GEAR UP VR. It’s designed to improve college access across the state of North Carolina. By downloading the GEAR UP VR app, high schoolers and their families can “tour” the UNC System colleges and universities thanks to 360-degree video.
What does that mean?
While on a tour in the app and hold your phone horizontally. Then, rotate in a circle. You’ll see all aspects of the scene (left, right, top, bottom, in front, or behind). How? Alexis Barnes, the Reese Innovation Lab’s Creative Content Produced, traveled across the state with 360-degree cameras, composed the shots, and “stitched” the 360-degree shots together post-shoot.
So, students can join the outdoor recreational activities at Western Carolina University, see the Blue & Gold Marching Machine perform across North Carolina A&T’s football field, sit in a cockpit during flight at Elizabeth City University, cheer on the Tar Heels in the student section of the Dean Dome at the University of North Carolina, view a dance class in process at the UNC School of the Arts — plus many more!
Not only can students “experience” these universities and colleges, but they can find more information about a specific school’s degrees and majors, financial aid, and application information all in the app. So if a high school student has already committed to a college for the fall, why not start researching the opportunities ahead right now? For those students who are in their early years of high school, why not take a “virtual trip” across North Carolina to begin collecting your thoughts on the next chapter in life? There are many opportunities ahead that this mobile app can unveil for students and their families across the state!
During this time offocusing on the present and prioritizing the health of loved ones, I hope high schoolers can reignite a sense of anticipation of what’s to come!
Download the GEAR UP VR app to experience these schools from your home (Apple App Store and Google Play). Check out the UNC Reese Innovation Lab for more projects like these using emerging technology!