Houston We Have Lift Off: Verizon Innovative Learning Explorer Lab virtually transports students to Mars | About Verizon
08.21.2018Community

Houston We Have Lift Off: Verizon Innovative Learning Explorer Lab virtually transports students to Mars

By: Michael Browne

The “explorer lab” touches down in DC and Houston this summer to show kids and adults the power of STEM education.

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Augmented and virtual reality technologies offer students extraordinary opportunities to learn and explore faraway places without leaving school grounds. Last school year, nearly 2,000 middle schoolers from Washington, D.C. entered the Verizon Innovative Learning explorer lab bus from their school parking lots and traveled virtually through the solar system before landing on Mars. This month, the explorer lab will travel to Houston, Texas, and more than 3,700 children from the Houston Independent School District will take part in the explorer lab. Houston is also one of the first cities in which Verizon will launch 5G wireless technologies in 2018.

The explorer lab is an immersive learning experience that combines movie-quality video, special effects, and hands-on educational gaming to get kids excited about STEM. Students experience a futuristic lab that transports them to Mars. Through this experience, students discover an entirely new way to learn engineering design concepts. The explorer lab is an important example of Verizon’s commitment to putting technology, access, and innovative programs in the hands of millions of kids so they can get the STEM education they need for a brighter future.

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Verizon Innovative Learning's "explorer lab" bus

Verizon has served over 1 million students to date with its Verizon Innovative Learning programs. In addition to the explorer lab, Verizon partners with community colleges and four-year universities, where middle school girls from rural areas and African-American and Latino boys participate in numerous summer tech immersion programs throughout the nation. During these programs, students receive year-round mentoring in tech skills, and teachers at participating schools acquire comprehensive training to help prepare students for jobs in the digital economy. By 2023, Verizon will invest up to $400 million to provide middle school students with the skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s high-tech world.

While in DC this summer, the explorer lab also stopped by several Verizon Innovative Learning tech immersion summer camps in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. These camps provide boys and girls hands-on experience in coding, robotics, 3D design and printing, and entrepreneurship. Most importantly, they inspire students to learn more about STEM.

Seeing the things we can do with science, and technology, and math makes it really interesting to see what I can do if I get a job in a certain field.

Olivia, a visitor to the explorer lab

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Olivia, a rising 8th grader who attended the Prince George’s Community College Girls in Tech camp in Largo, Maryland, exclaimed, “This is really fun. I like being able to play the game to learn about engineering. Seeing the things we can do with science, and technology, and math makes it really interesting to see what I can do if I get a job in a certain field.”

Jenna, a rising 9th grader who participated in the explorer lab this summer at Camp Hope in Crossman, Tennessee, declared, “Before I was into science and technology, but now I like it even more.”     

The explorer lab also visited the Federal Communications Commission and Capitol Hill (see video). FCC Commissioners, Members of Congress, and federal government staff experienced the lab in the same way the students do, helping them to better understand the ways in which next generation technologies can positively transform the pedagogical environment.     

Verizon is committed to programs like the explorer lab that bring free technology, access and innovative hands-on learning to students across the country. Powered by a next-generation, technology-infused curriculum that fundamentally changes the way teachers teach and students learn, Verizon Innovative Learning programs give kids the ability to do more in this world. To achieve more. To learn more. To create more.

Learn more about how Verizon Innovative Learning programs are giving students the technology and resources they need to succeed.

For media related inquiries, please contact story.inquiry@one.verizon.com.

About the author(s): 

Michael Browne, Public Policy and Government Relations director, works to amplify Verizon’s commitment to STEM education among policymakers and stakeholders.