All posts by Val

Using Virtual Reality in the Classroom

Virtual Reality or VR as it’s known is taking the world by storm. Along with augmented reality it can make the classroom a much more interesting place. With the Escola project in mind we were keen to find out how this would help engineering students.

Dr Jacqueline Thomas, a humanitarian engineering lecturer at University of Sydney, said Virtual Reality is especially useful for disciplines where, due to safety concerns or practicality reasons, it’s hard to give students hands-on experience.

“Construction engineers are using VR to do site inspections. Chemical engineers can use it to conduct experiments and observe chemical reactions at a much closer range than they would normally be able to.”

We looked at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota to find out more about their use of virtual reality. The university embraced technology and feel that this helps faculty and students stay ahead of the curve.

STELAR: the St. Thomas eLearning and Research Center, is digitally connected, and technically-outfitted with interactive touch screens, video conferencing, etc. The center supports the movement toward online and blended degrees, while aiding faculty in their research. In STELAR’s Emerging Technology Showcase, faculty can start envisioning – and using – the classrooms of the future.

Students at the university use Virtual Reality by capturing 360⁰ images on site, and of their projects, that can be stitched together into a VR experience. 

STELAR’s Active Learning Classroom includes monitors and whiteboards on every wall, group seating rather than rows of desks. This makes learning much more interactive and encourages a collaborative way of education.

To find out more about the Escola Project and to take the free online course please visit the website.

5 Interesting Apps and Tools for Engineering Students

With the Escola Project in mind we’ve been researching apps and websites designed for engineering students. Instead of having to carry bulky books, engineering students can now take advantage of the multiple apps and tools available. 

We’ve taken a look at some of the apps and tools that might be of interest :

Engineering Unit Converter
This is a comprehensive engineering unit converter with an intuitive spinning wheel interface. There is no ad, no hidden code, no need for a network connection, and the total size is about half a megabyte. 

Not an app but a really cool website. Instructables is a community for people who like to make things. You can explore, share, and make your next project with them. You will be inspired by this one.

Wolfram Alpha
A very user friendly app, this one has been compared to Wikipedia for engineering students. Students input questions relevant to their field of study and the Alpha gives you the answer.

This app is designed specifically for use by Electrical engineering and electronics student. The app serves as a database for electronic tools and references which can be used by students looking to learn or practicing engineers searching for immediate information when solving problems.

RealCalc Plus
RealCalc Plus is designed to look and operate exactly like a real hand-held calculator. It has all the standard scientific functions plus fractions, degrees/minutes/seconds, history, memories, unit conversions and constants. You can choose from a number of display styles and formats. It also supports binary, octal and hexadecimal calculations and has an optional RPN mode. 

If you have any suggestions for great apps or tools for engineers just let us know.

To find out more about the Escola Project and take the free, online course please visit the website.

Slow Adventure Tourism

One of the projects we are working on here in Momentum is The Adventure Tourism Innovation Partnerships (AVIP) so we’ve been busy researching adventure tourism.

Living in Ireland we have so many adventure tourism providers and Val decided to check out a couple of Slow Adventures to see what they were like.

The first adventure was with Adventure Sligo. This group has been set up to promote various adventures in the County of Sligo. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or prefer life in the slow lane there is something for everyone and all levels of fitness too. Val went along for a kayak trip, this leisurely paddle took place on Lough Gill, made famous by the poet W. B. Yeats. A coffee break was held in beautiful Hazelwood Forest before the paddle back. Val thought it was really quite magical with the water lapping around the kayak and the wildlife and wilderness all around.

The second adventure was with Slow Food Mayo which is a branch of Slow Food Ireland. This group is run solely by volunteers and brings together the communities of like-minded people who champion the ethos of good, clean and fair food in Ireland. 

The Slow Food Mayo event took place in the stunning grounds of Belleek Castle in Co. Mayo. There was a tour of the garden by head gardener Alex Lavarde who introduced the group to so many different herbs and plants, all of which are used in the castle kitchen. Head Chef David O’Donnell came up with a superb feast of food sourced from the gardens for lunch.
There was also pork and beef from Andarl Farm, oysters from Achill Oysters, Aran Goat Cheese from Gabriel Flaherty and lamb from Achill Mountain Lamb. There was also a variety of breads, homemade lemonade and delicious cakes. After lunch there was a foraging walk with Alex Jaromin in Belleek Woods. Alex was pointing out all things edible – and some that weren’t!

Both days out were really worth going on and just shows how interesting Slow Adventure can be. You can find out more about the Adventure Tourism project here:

Saving water through Frugal Innovation

Sometimes the simplest ideas turn out to be the best. One of the projects we are working on here at Momentum is Frugal Innovation. This is both a mind set and a series of techniques that enables entrepreneurs to innovate despite resource constraints.

In simple terms Frugal Innovation helps people understand the need for innovation in their communities or business and empowers them to find a way with limited funds.

During our research of Frugal Innovation we came across 22-year old Maithili Appalwar who came up with a simple idea to help the water crisis in India.

Maithili has founded a business to create affordable solutions that pull Indian farmers out of hunger and poverty. The flagship project is an affordable water conservation product, which has so far conserved 200 billion litres of water. This is a fantastic achievement especially in such a short amount of time. You can read the full article here.

To find out more about the Frugal Innovation Project including free learning resources you can visit the website.

Epoch – a new kind of summer camp for teenagers

Empowering Digital Citizenship

Here at Momentum we are big advocates for raising awareness around social media and helping young people to make responsible choices about what they do online. We are involved in the Empower Me project which aims to do just that through online learning resources.

We recently found out about Epoch, which is a new kind of summer camp aimed at teenagers. The word Epoch is defined “as an important period of time in an era” … and there is no-more an important time than the formative teenage years.

Epoch is a week-long residential experience taking place in July, based in Sligo, Ireland, for teenagers between 13 and 15 that encourages learning in a holistic manner and instills that a healthy body equates to a healthy mind.  The concept has been developed of three key pillars namely; Nutrition, Activity and Personal Development.

The Epoch experience will be a digital detox encouraging little or no technology and a workshop will be delivered to create awareness and consequences of misuse of social media platforms. All participants will be given the coping skills to deal with the pressures of life today. It’s hoped this will help teenagers develop their confidence and maturity – and perhaps even give them the opportunity to make lifelong friends.

If you want to find out more about the Epoch course you can check out their website.

To find out more about the Empowering Digital Citizenship project that Momentum are involved with you can visit the website. This project will teach young adults about the risks of online communication and provide tools and strategies on how to safeguard themselves.