A Virtual Journey into the Human Body: Students Board High-Tech Bus from GWU to Explore Healthcare Careers

By Office of Communication and Community Relations
E-News Fall
October 21, 2022

Hop aboard the giant blue bus parked outside West Potomac Academy and you’ll enter a futuristic world of learning focused on exploring the intricacies of the human body. Augmented reality, artificial intelligence (AI), and holograms are all being used to give FCPS medical science students the chance to get hands-on experience in a virtual setting. The 45-foot bus, or Immersive Learning Center (ILC), is a new educational program from the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences and Medi-Corps Program, aimed at helping high school students explore careers in the healthcare field. 

As students step in front of one of the large screens on the bus, they are transported to a situation where a football player has broken his leg. Students are able to participate as the athlete is treated by EMS professionals and taken to George Washington University Hospital where he receives care from nurses, radiologists, pharmacists, and surgeons. The journey from the field to the hospital gives students a glimpse into the variety of medical professions required to treat a broken bone. 

A simulation shows students how to treat a broken leg.

“The students' enthusiasm to get up and interact in the immersive learning is so phenomenal to watch,” said West Potomac Academy Career Specialist Maria Kappel. “On the iPad, the technology allows the skeletal system to come to life. They can add different layers of the body in a 3D model. It is very cool and helpful for students.”

Ten FCPS students were trained on the technology before the program launched to all medical science students at West Potomac Academy. The students who were trained walk their peers through the different activities and help them make the most of the virtual experience.

A program on an iPad lets students explore the skeletal system.

“This program definitely helps students learn,” said senior Spencer Taylor. “I’ve heard other students say ‘oh I’ve heard of this body part before, but I never knew what it looked like!’” 

The ILC’s first stop is the Governor’s Health Sciences Academy at West Potomac HS, and will also travel to the Governor’s Health Sciences Academy at Falls Church High School and the Governor’s STEM Academy at Chantilly High School later this school year. 

“GW recognizes the need to attract more young people into health science careers,'' said Terri Capshaw, the Director of the Community MediCorps Program at GW. “We are committed to bringing technology to high school students who have expressed an interest in health sciences so they can pursue that career with the help of this high-tech programming.” 

Medical science students use HoloLens technology aboard the ILC.

As students and staff become more familiar with the technology over the next few months, they will be able to choose activities that reinforce the curriculum being taught in the classroom.

“We are thrilled to provide opportunities for students to explore health literacy and make connections outside of the classroom,” said West Potomac Academy Administrator Jennifer Alpers. “This state of the art technology is putting our students in a position to learn the same material being taught at top colleges and universities, which is very exciting.”

GWU received a grant from GO Virginia to create the ILC program.

Learn more about the ILC on GW’s website

Watch this video to learn more about how FCPS students are engaging with virtual reality aboard the ILC.