The VR Chemistry Lab, a long-time project of mine, has finally been released on the Oculus App Lab! It is a virtual reality simulation of a school science lab as well as a molecule modelling experience. You can find it at this link or by doing an exact search of “The VR Chemistry Lab” in the Oculus Store (it will appear at the bottom under App Lab). Even though the app is still a work in progress, it costs $1.99, which (in my obviously biased opinion) is still totally worth it. For less than a cup of coffee or boba tea you can do an experiment in a chemistry lab or experience life-size atoms and molecules! The cost also goes towards proving the viability of developing research-based educational content for VR.
A short history of the VR Chemistry Lab: it began as a Master’s project when I first started in the Instructional Technology program at Teachers College, Columbia University. As VR became more accessible with the Oculus CV1 and the HTC Vive, it piqued my interests as a possible tool for teaching. However, as with most technologies, just because it is fun and new does not mean it will automatically be good for learning. Thus, my time at Teachers College has revolved around exploring VR’s affordances for learning, whether VR can be effective for certain types of education, and best design principles for educational experiences in VR.
The VR Chemistry Lab is built upon learning theories like Constructivism and cognitive theories such as embodied cognition. It aims to be a supplementary tool to real, physical, hands-on science experiences that students usually have in school. In the case where students cannot have these traditional physical experiences, the VR Chemistry Lab can provide a comparable learning experience (Hu-Au & Okita, 2021). It also can provide a unique experience where students can enter the experiment at the molecular level and interact with the molecules as the experiment is happening. It is designed to be a bridge between the real-life chemistry experience and a model of the abstract concepts that are usually difficult to visualize.
As it is continually being updated I hope to add more chemistry experiments and experiences in the future. Please try it out and thanks for the support!