DoE’s EdSim Challenge finalists feature the best of VR in education

US DoEThe U.S. Department of Education has announced the five finalists for its EdSim Challenge for next-generation computer sims—all of which feature virtual reality.

EdSim Challenge encourages developers in the VR, video game, and educational technology communities to design simulations to prepare students for the demanding 21st-century workplace. The competition received 249 submissions from across the U.S.

“We are extremely excited about the quality of solutions submitted to the Challenge,” said Kim R. Ford, the acting assistant secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, in a press release. “The five finalists cover a wide range of topics, and we are confident they will help students strengthen career and technical education, propelling America’s workforce forward in the 21st century.”

The five finalists, according to the press release:

  • Case Western Reserve University: Holographic Anatomy to Transform Healthcare Learning is a digital alternative to cadaver-based dissection, teaching medical anatomy using Microsoft HoloLens.
  • Embodied Labs, Inc.: The Alfred Lab is a series of VR patient experience labs, training students to become better caregivers of aging populations.
  • Octothorpe LLC: The Irregular: Sherlock Holmes is a VR experience that uses critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork to explore subjects such as chemistry and psychology.
  • Osso VR Inc.: Osso VR is an orthopedic surgical training simulation platform that specializes in realistic, hands-on interaction.
  • Smart Sparrow: LifeCraft explores the story of life on Earth through various VR journeys, ranging from archeology and biology to astronomy.

Each finalists will receive $50,000 and prizes (such as development kits from Oculus and Samsung, the maker of VR headset HTC Vive) and will participate in the EdSim Virtual Accelerator to refine their concept and create a prototype.

Then, on Demo Day, each finalist will present their playable prototypes to the judges, who will select the grand prize winner.

The panel of judges includes teacher Steve Isaacs, Reshma Saujani of Girls Who Code, Kiki Wolfkill of Microsoft’s 343 Industries, Kurt Squire of Games+Learning+Society, and others.

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