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3-D Rover on loan to Gouverneur school gives students window into science

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GOUVERNEUR — A beating heart pulsed on a screen at the front of Jessica A. Sullivan’s Gouverneur Central School eighth-grade science class as her students wearing 3-D glasses watched, rapt as if they were in a movie theater.

“I can actually show the inside of the heart and the valves inside,” Mrs. Sullivan said. “We can show blood flow, the oxygenated part and the unoxygenated part. It’s been amazing. They get so excited.”

The workings of the heart is but one of the many science topics the 3-D Rover, on loan through the Northeastern Regional Information Center model school program, can demonstrate three-dimensionally.

On a recent school day, students took a look inside a nucleus, watching chromosomes wiggle across the screen. As Mrs. Sullivan talked about different mutations that can occur, segments of the chromosomes detached and appeared to fly into the classroom as three-dimensional objects and then reattach themselves to the chromosome.

Without the glasses, the image is blurry.

“I think the 3-D gives a better idea of what the thing actually looks like because it’s not flat,” student Isabel LeClaire said.

Another advantage is that everyone can see the object under study at the same time, student Sydney R. Gale said.

The 3-D Rover, complete with projector, battery-powered glasses and a selection of teaching videos, has been making the rounds of middle-school and high-school classes, thanks to the efforts of Donna M. Bushey, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

“We’re actually the first school in the north country to use it,” Middle School Principal Steven G. Coffin said. “It’s very new. It works great as a supplemental tool.”

Three-dimensional videos are good at zooming into cells, showing chemical reactions, teaching astronomy and demonstrating how different body parts work, such as the eyeball, including the focal points for nearsightedness and farsightedness.

“It’s been most applicable for science because so much of it is abstract,” Mr. Coffin said.

He demonstrated the heart video to showcase the unit to school board members, who were as excited as the students.

“Our board is interested in how we can integrate technology into instruction,” Mr. Coffin said.

The district has use of the 3-D Rover through the week, after which it could be lent to another school to see if it is interested in buying it. Mr. Coffin and several teachers will attend a national science conference in April in Boston on technological equipment available for the classroom so they can make recommendations for Gouverneur.

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