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Dylan McKeon Capstone


Virtual Reality is a idea that is currently being explored deeper to bring immersion to video games and simulations. However how can this be applied to a learning environment?  For my Capstone I worked on a virtual simulation of our solar system that can be viewed with the Oculus Rift. This is part of Project Stargazer, my ILP for the past two years where the group has worked with making an representation of the solar system with VR for The Franklin Institute.

I started out working on the design of the simulation in the Unreal Engine creating the cockpit and menu displays of the spaceship that would serve as our HUD. However as the only one in the group with knowledge of Unreal, I ended up also working on the code. During the year I finished the design of the spaceship, tried to get the ship to move, made a planet map for each in the solar system complete with HUD’s showing information on the planet and made starry background. However I was never able to finish the coding and could not get the ship to move even after a month of troubleshooting and consulting with Unreal coders. However I taught several of the sophomores in the project how to use Unreal and will continue to help out throughout the summer.

During this project I learned about the benefits of VR for education with it’s added immersion allowing for greater focus and more effective visuals.

Link to Levels (must be placed in Unreal Engine to Work)

For More information about Project Stargazer:

For images of the simulation and time at Educon are below



Antonio Gonçalves Vilas Boas, Yuri. "Overview of Virtual Reality Technologies." (n.d.): n. pag. Final Paper. University of Southampton. Web. 4 Feb. 2016.

This article is an overview of VR showing its history, goals, and evolution. It goes over the principals of VR in terms of immersion, perception, and telepresence.  It discusses the educational value of VR by showing the ScienceSpace application which allows a student to learn about physics, electrostatic forces, and visualize the structures of molecules.

Biglari, Ehren, and Yusheng Feng. "Interactive Virtual-Reality Driven Learning Framework for Engineering and Science Education." Center for Simulation, Visualization and Real-Time Prediction (2014): n. pag. American Society for Engineering Education. Web. 4 Feb. 2016.

This Article discusses the usage of several VR devices and motion trackers and the usage of the technology in the modern day. The setup of their device is described as well as several of the strengths and weaknesses of the various VR devices. The Oculus is explained in terms of hardware, describing how the headset generates the an undistorted 3D environment.

Castillo, Anna. "Virtual Reality and Education." Stanford Teaching Commons. Stanford University, 22 May 2014. Web. 02 Feb. 2016.

An article looking at Stanford’s Virtual Reality lab and applications of the technology. The level of immersion that the lab provides is shown as an example of how to provide the students with realistic environments to better educate them about the subjects. However the biggest drawback is shown to be the development of such simulations which often take a year for each. The immersion of VR is being compared to watching a normal video of the same information to compare the difference and find just how effective it would be.

"Learning Through Exploring Virtual Worlds." Global Warming Intro. University of Washington, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.

This site shows a project that attempted to use VR to explain and show a representation of Global Warming. The projects plan was to allow students to manipulate environmental variables to see how the atmosphere is affected. The site also explains the role VR could play in education explaining how the immersive experience can be used to present lessons.

Orlosky, J.; Weber, M.; Gu, Y.; Sonntag, D.; and Sosnovsky,S. A.  2015c.  An interactive pedestrian environment simulator for cognitive monitoring and evaluation, March 2015. Web. 02 Feb. 2016.

This article looks at using the Oculus Rift in a test for observing and monitoring pedestrians with cognitive impairments. The test uses VR to determine reactions and the pedestrians vision. The article also discusses problems with having the user physically interact with the world in a way that feels natural and use of the Leap Motion Control to track hand motion.

Piovesan, Sandra Dutra, Liliana Maria Passerino, and Adrian Soares Pereira. Proceedings of the International Association for Development of The Information Society (Iadis) International Conference on Cognition And Exploratory Learning in Digital Age (Celda) (Madrid, Spain, October 19-21, 2012). Virtual Reality as a Tool in The Education. Universidade Federal Do Rio Grande Do Sul. Web. 4 Feb. 2016.

This article discuss the idea of using VR in education, explaining how it allows a student to explore and build their knowledge. It focuses on how VR can be used to simulate environments which would be too difficult or expensive for the student to visit normally. The article describes how the subject of Formal Languages was implemented into a 3D environment to allow for a VR test of the subject.

Reiners, T., Teräs, H., Chang, V., Wood, L. C., Gregory, S., Gibson, D., Petter , N. & Teräs, M. (2014). Authentic, immersive, and emotional experience in virtual learning environments: The fear of dying as an important learning experience in a simulation. In Transformative, innovative and engaging. Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 30-31 January 2014. Perth: The University of Western Australia.

This article describes how the addition of the Oculus Rift can improve the experiences of VR to be used to educate students. The article shows the comparison between passive and active learning and how VR would work compared to typical teaching methods. The article also shows a test run through VR where a person navigates a dangerous factory to determine how much a person would value their avatar’s safety in VR.

"Solar System Exploration." Planets - Solar System Exploration. NASA, n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2016.

NASA’s guide to the aspects of our Solar System with a list of the planets and other celestial bodies. Provides information about the statistics of the planet's size, distance, and orbit, as well as an overview of the planets and their history.

"Unreal Engine 4 Documentation." Epic Games, Inc, n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2016.

A guide to Unreal Engine 4 including tutorials to the basic aspects of Unreal and creating a video game. The site provides a great deal of information about the program to assist a beginner in the creation of a basic game.

"Virtual Reality Technologies for Treating Obesity." - NHLBI, NIH. N.p., Nov. 2010. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute held a meeting to discuss the potential use of VR to monitoring and controlling weight gain. The article discusses how VR can be used to suggest healthier eating through the social networking and the motivational and teaching aspects of VR. It discusses the ways to control an experiment with VR and the applications of it in the future.