VictoryVR: Bringing virtual reality to the classroom

VictoryVR Over 20 school districts are using virtual reality curriculum developed by VirtualVR. Photo courtesy of VictoryVR

Science is becoming more immersive.

It’s because of the Quad Cities-based company VictoryVR, who developed a National Standards Science Curriculum for grades five through eight in virtual reality. And the high school science curriculum should be available by the end of this month.

The VictoryVR curriculum is available for the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality headsets, the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard.

Steve Grubbs is the Founder and CEO of VictoryVR and a former chair of the Iowa Republican Party. Grubbs served as a member of the Iowa House of Representatives from 1990 to 1996 and at one time served as chairman of the House Education Committee.

He says he’s always been interested in technology and pairing it with education, so when he tried on an Oculus headset for the first time he found a potential connection.

“Everybody was talking about how it will change gaming, but the thing that screamed out to me was this could change the way we educate students and the educational experience,” Grubbs says.

In February, Acer chose VictoryVR as their official virtual reality curriculum partner which led to demonstrations in London and Austin. Grubbs said they won’t release total numbers but schools in Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and the country of India have either purchased the VictoryVR curriculum or are currently testing it.

Being in the classroom

Each science unit is based on the Next Generation Science Standards, which over half the schools in the country have adopted. In each unit, there are five virtual reality experiences:

  • Virtual field trips to The Great Wall, Iceland, Mexico, Singapore and Hong Kong
  • Science experience with Wendy Martin (National runner-up Science Teacher of the Year)
  • Interactive Experience
  • Two stories

The field trips include trips to the Redwood Forests, Kittyhawk, Apache Point Observatory, Reed’s Gold Mind, Roswell, New Mexico and Cinnamon Ridge Farms.

Grubbs said there are three assessments inside the headset and the results are saved to the cloud for teachers to see the graded results.

“We have over 110 schools testing our product,” Grubbs said. “We have a fair number of education companies rooted in Iowa and I think there’s the potential for an Iowa company to have a national footprint, without having to move to Silicon Valley.”

Launching VictoryVR

After experiencing virtual reality on the Oculus headset, Grubbs set out to come up with a business plan, create a demo and create virtual reality.

In an ironic turn of events, Grubbs said VictoryVR launched in August of 2017 and is based out of an old elementary school.

“They closed my elementary school, we bought it and our company is based out of the former H.M Perry elementary school in Davenport,” Grubbs said laughing.

He said that within five years, augmented/virtual reality will be common in schools across the country.

“Our goal is to be one of the top three players as virtual reality becomes ubiquitous in American education,” Grubbs said.

Grubbs admits he expected schools to take a more aggressive approach with virtual reality but said the technology can be expensive for school districts.

“The good news is major hardware providers will be releasing complete virtual reality headset systems this year that cost less than $400,” Grubbs said.

But Grubbs says he’s been surprised in the number of companies—such as Microsoft, Oculus, HTC and hardware providers such as Acer—that have taken an interest in VictoryVR, despite the fact that VictoryVR is not a Silicon Valley company.

“There’s a race to win the classroom and it’s important to have a strong curriculum product to offer schools or there will be no reason to try this,” Grubbs says. “It’s safe to say we have the leading curriculum product in the world. At some point, we should catch some wind in our sails and begin to experience strong adoption.”