IPSF Awards $20,000 Mega Grant for Augmented Reality Initiative


Maya Sabbaghian

Cramer and Waldner plan on using the grant money to purchase virtual reality equipment in order to support learning in various classes.

Maya Sabbaghian, Opinion Editor

Media technician Amanda Cramer and computer graphics teacher Grace Waldner together applied for and won a $20,000 Mega Innovation Grant which they received on Feb. 25. The grant is funded by Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF) and is to be used to support certain innovations, specifically virtual reality.

With the grant money, we are planning on ordering augmented and virtual reality equipment,” Cramer said. “Upon receiving the equipment, we have plans to integrate its use across disciplines by way of training and showcasing leader lessons and content creation. The money will enable students to take virtual field trips, to create and edit 360-degree video footage and to begin using augmented reality. After initial pilot lessons, the equipment will be kept in the Learning Commons for checkout to any teacher in every department.”

Portola High has previously received IPSF grant money to support the Aquaponics project. In order to receive a grant, schools must write a grant proposal, which includes information on why they need the equipment, a plan of how the equipment will be integrated and used to transform instruction.

According to the IPSF website, “These grants help to fund innovative approaches, which bring deeper meaning to curriculum and improve the educational experiences of students. Grants are funded through a combination of support from corporate partners and parent support through the Parents Appreciating Teachers and Staff program.”

Students will have the opportunity to engage with the equipment that the grant money funds, and some teachers may even incorporate it into class curriculum in order to aid learning.

“I believe [virtual reality equipment] can be a perfect experience for students because students can experience the third dimension in [different classes],” sophomore and library aid Saba Firouzabadi said. “For instance, in history, you can actually be there and experience historical events…which is beneficial for students’ learning.”

These grants are available to all Irvine Unified schools with the goal of encouraging innovation and providing funding toward various transformative programs, including the virtual reality initiative.

“A large reason behind this effort is due to developing literacies,” Cramer said. “I used to think that literacy was just reading and writing, but I have come to realize that literacy has multiple forms, like cultural literacy or digital literacy. From what I am seeing, augmented and virtual realities fall under the media literacy category and will be a changing force in the coming years.”