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AR simulators add new spark to high school welding course

The addition of augmented reality simulators is being credited with helping more students excel in a welding course at Charles Spencer High School. According to the Grande Prairie Public School Division, the technology includes a wireless board, welding rod, and partnering software that allows students to choose a project and work on it via a touchscreen device or a face mask with a built-in screen.

As the projects are virtual, students have more slack when it comes to mistakes, and it provides a runway to try increasingly difficult techniques without having to worry about materials. Career and Technology Studies teacher Joe LaValley says the addition of technology is not only saving time in the classroom but is also giving students the opportunities to gain experience faster than they would traditionally.

AR system being used by students in the welding lab at Charles Spencer High School
(Photo provided by Grande Prairie Public School Division)

“Many students new to fabrication are intimidated by the sparks and noise that accompany the work, and the simulators provide a realistic and engaging way to build confidence before attempting live GMAW welding in our lab,” LaValley says.

Using the technology, students are also able to correct their work as they go, thanks to the assisted learning guidance feature, which provides instant feedback. According to GPPSD officials, this feature can be turned off and on and will be off during exams.

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According to the school division, five of the simulators were purchased late last year in partnership with the Grande Prairie Public School Division Education Foundation.

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