Big Ideas goes to GFW

Students get VR simulator experience

Anna Hughes of Big Ideas, right, guides GFW students from left Jada Schwarzrock and Taylor Schafer of Gibbon and Marti Jacobson of Fairfax. Students used virtual reality gear to explore in-demand trades with an interactive experience

WINTHROP — Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) Middle and High School students talked glowingly about their hands-on virtual reality and simulator technology experience in the high school weight room Friday.

Anna Hughes of New Ulm, a sales representative for Big Ideas Inc. of New Ulm, played a key role in opportunities for students to discover, explore, and learn technical and soft skills needed to succeed in skilled trades.

A 2009 GFW graduate, Hughes instructed students on how to use VR (a simulated experience that can be similar to the real world).

“I grew up in the skilled trades,” Hughes said.

Her parents Pat and Julie Reinhart of Gibbon owned the Gibbon Lumber and Hardware for 19 years.

Big Ideas Inc. instructor Myron Wieland, right, guides GFW junior Isabelle Vos on how to use an excavator simulator in the Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) High School weight room Friday.

“I love introducing learners to new trades. Here’s an opportunity for learning on wheels. People can contact us and book us,” said Hughes.

Students used hand-controlled simulators for welding, industrial painting, and excavating. Other trade simulations included robotic maintenance and fire suppression.

“It’s cool. I found it to be more educational than text books,” said Gibbon sophomore Jada Schwarzrock.

“It gave me a good idea about the trades. I changed oil, welded and used an excavator,” said Fairfax freshman Mitchell Olson.

Winthrop sophomore Jake Hiles said he welded and operated an excavator.

“I definitely thought it was cool, easy to use and realistic,” Hiles said.

Isabelle Vos, a junior from Fairfax, used an excavator simulator with instructor Myron Wieland of New Ulm.

“It’s fun for kids to some something so futuristic,” said Vos.

“It’s a rock star,” said Wieland.

“It’s a good experience for students to see what’s out there, a feel for what’s next. Kids are having fun with it too,” said GFW Middle and High School Principal Brittany Galetka.

Big Ideas has mobile learning labs scheduled to visit GFW again during home basketball games on Monday, Jan. 10. Simulators will be open to the public from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The Big Ideas road show has traveled to schools in souther, central and northern Minnesota. For more information, visit www.bigideasusa.org.


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