Hoosier Uplands Grants Bedford Public Library $8000 for Virtual Reality Technology

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Bedford Public Library is announcing today a new partnership with Hoosier Uplands Economic Development Corporation that will engage Lawrence County residents with virtual reality technology. A Hoosier Uplands Community Development and Improvement Program Grant of $8,000.00 will fund the Bedford Public Library’s FROM VIRTUAL REALITY TO CAREER REALITY project. This venture will provide educational virtual reality experiences to the youth and families of Lawrence County in a variety of venues, including the Library, North Lawrence Schools, and community events.

According to Hoosier Uplands Chief Executive Officer David Miller, “This Virtual Reality project builds perfectly on the grant that we recently awarded to the North Lawrence Career Center. Engaging students in Virtual Reality learning will provide real-world current experiences. Hoosier Uplands supports projects that engage students with STEM learning.” In May of this year, a $40,000 grant awarded by Hoosier Uplands enabled the North Lawrence Career Center to add a state-of-the-art computer numeric controlled (CNC) milling machine to the shop. This month an additional $30,000 grant from Hoosier Uplands to the Career Center will purchase additional equipment to help students master additional career skills.

This virtual reality partnership project expands the role of Bedford Public Library staff as Community Educators. Local residents of all ages will use this increasingly vital technology to experience reality in groundbreaking ways. Although virtual reality can be entertaining, our project is focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education. Bedford Public Library STEM Educator staff members will use virtual reality as a tool with which to enlighten and excite students and families about career possibilities in a variety of easily accessible venues. The Library will provide virtual reality equipment that will expand experiences and make career exploration come alive. This project will play a key role in the Library’s work to strengthen community, develop partnerships, and encourage innovation.

What is virtual reality? Also known as VR, it is a computer-generated environment that allows the user to experience a different reality. A VR headset fits around the user’s head and over their eyes and visually separates them from whatever space they are physically occupying. Images are fed to the user’s eyes by software. Through VR, users can virtually manipulate robots, tour a factory, or fly an airplane as if they are part of it, without ever leaving the building.

The Bedford Public Library’s partnership with Hoosier Uplands to use virtual reality as an engaging experience for all ages is just one other way to help our community see STEM with a new perspective. We have already begun ordering equipment and hope to have it available for use by mid-January.