ChemLab – VR

ChemLab - Google Cardboard view



Virtual reality devices such as Google Cardboard are now affordable and realistic for use in the classroom. This project focuses on how VR can be utilized in K-12 science education to change the experience of education and lead to a more engaging learning environment.


Our team began this project by mapping the ecosystem of K-12 science education to identify the spaces where education occurs, the objects and digital content used and the people involved. We narrowed down our domain to chemistry and chose to focus on the periodic table of elements.


ChemLab is a VR periodic table of elements for Google Cardboard designed to encourage an interactive and contextual learning experience. Exploration levels are framed around subsets of elements grouped using less traditional traits such as name familiarity, atomic half-life, color or smell.

Within a level, elements are positioned in 3D space based on their uniquely defining characteristics. For our demonstration level, we focused on elements most familiar to new learners (e.g. oxygen, neon, gold) and used atomic weight, atomic gravity, and year discovered to position the element.

When students look at an element in the 3D space, they see information on the element and have the option of “going” inside. Each element has a corresponding scene that is tailored to that element using animation, visual textures and sound to create associations unique to that element.

By grouping subsets of elements based on less traditional commonalities, and providing multiple levels of associations for each element, students are able to explore the elements more naturally in a way that reinforces learning and aids in recall.


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April Maclaga, Michelle Mills, Dajana Nedic


Imaging For Graphic Design IV | Spring 2016
Design for Play, Learning, and Information
Assistant Professor Derek Ham
NCSU College of Design