Ellison CTE Classes Test Interactive Museum

Drone piloting at museumEHS students try virtual realityA group of Ellison High School engineering and criminal justice students served Wednesday as willing test subjects for a developing technology museum not yet open to the public.


The 29 students spent the morning trying out virtual reality scenarios, recording podcasts in a studio and trying their skills at drone piloting among other challenges.


Ellison engineering teacher Charlie Gibson and criminal justice teacher Joe Easley brought their students and put together their own drone obstacle course.


The group gathered at the invitation of Nolanville’s interactive SMART Museum located in the J.W. Sims Center.


Nolanville Director of Economic Development Brian O’Connor welcomed the high school students and discussed some of the long-term goals in building interactive technology and environmental science exhibits for the community to enjoy.


Inside the museum, students took turns recording podcasts and walking through a police investigation simulation and saw a water runoff and pollution display.


An outside vendor provided additional virtual reality, including a lunar landing mission experience similar to what museum planners hope to offer in the future.

Color spectrum lessonsKISD STEM bus at SMART museum


Students also directed drones through an obstacle course in the parking lot and completed a color spectrum lesson in KISD’s Mobile STEM lab.


“Today is about learning,” said senior Aileen Gonzalez. “We are getting to do VR and learning about coding. It’s a lot easier than I thought it was. We also learned about water pollution and podcasting.”


A criminal justice student interested in forensics, Gonzalez said she is not usually drawn to science, but that the museum exhibits and other experiences made it interesting.


“I like the virtual reality with earth and space.”


One experience allowed students to place themselves in an animated scenario involving aliens. The other provided a more real-life, in-space mission experience.


“It seems futuristic,” she said. “It’s a great learning experience. This would get me into science.”

Police investigation simulation


Ellison senior Cameron McNamee said the experience gave him ideas about career paths in the science and technology spheres.


“We’re learning about how science is used in the real world,” he said, pointing out the podcasts and the police simulator.


The lunar mission virtual reality, he said, allowed him to feel like he was in space. “You could see a rocket. It was like you were going to the moon.”


Gibson said he was excited for his students to get an early look at an emerging new resource in their own backyard.


“I wanted to encourage them to volunteer their time here in the future so they can give back to the community,” he said. “This is a great resource and it’s local.”