High school chemistry lab can be a dangerous place. There’s potential for spilled chemicals, fires and broken glass. A Pittsburgh-developed virtual reality game aims to bring chemistry to life in a safer way.
HoloLAB Champions is set up as a vibrant, animated game show. Using two handheld controls, players pour liquid, scoop powder and read measurements – skills useful in a real chemistry lab.
Schell Games CEO Jesse Schell said presenting chemistry in an exciting, competitive way makes it fun without sacrificing the educational value.
“That seemed kind of fun and funny and a way to celebrate the importance of lab work,” Schell said.
HoloLAB Champions was developed with the help of chemistry teachers, and Schell said they gave valuable input – including suggesting the game focus less on explosions, and more on applicable skills. The game isn’t meant to replace lab work, but to complement it, said Schell.
“The idea of being able to have a place to practice and get better and get more familiar with lab skills before you go into a real lab seemed like it could be a win,” Schell said.
The game is free for educators, but Schell acknowledged that good VR headsets are expensive – upwards of $500. But just as most schools now have computer labs, Schell said he believes VR technology will eventually become more accessible to educators and students. For now, Hololab Champions is a glimpse into what the future of education could look like.