Yonkers Public Library Receives Grant from Verizon Foundation To Bring Virtual Reality into Yonkers Classrooms

Published Thursday, March 28, 2019

 virtual reality at Yonkers Public Library

Yonkers, NY (March 20, 2019) – Yonkers Public Library has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to bring augmented and virtual reality to Yonkers classrooms. 

Yonkers Public Library, in partnership with the Yonkers Public School District, will launch a pilot program at Paideia School 15. Fifth grade students will use virtual reality (VR) headsets to explore three-dimensional environments that expand and enhance existing curriculum in subjects such as history, science, math and art.

“Bringing virtual reality into our classrooms accomplishes the goal of making students’ learning relevant to them, thereby creating a learning environment that is conducive to high levels of academic rigor,” said Jane Wermuth, Paideia School 15 principal.

In early March, teachers attended training at the library to learn about ClassVR, a standalone headset delivering a fully immersive virtual reality experience that is completely under the teacher’s control. The library purchased 16 headsets that can be “checked out” by a teacher and used in the classroom for a six week period or longer depending on the class project.

 “With this generous grant, the library is able to provide continuous training to our public school teachers on how to introduce cutting edge technologies in the classroom,” said Ed Falcone, library director.  “Virtual reality allows students to experience places and things they might not otherwise get to experience, such as visiting a museum in Europe or analyzing a heart in 3D. A key mission is providing equitable services to all and VR allows us to level the playing field for our students. 

In late 2018, the library created a state-of-the-art virtual reality space in the Riverfront Library’s Tech Central equipped with Oculus Go headsets and HTC VIVE systems offering hundreds of VR applications. Currently, the equipment is being used by teens in the “Girls (and boys) Who Code,” ”Tween Tech Time” and “Gaming Thursday” programs. The library plans on adding adult experiential programs in the future.

“Our goal with this space was to provide access to emerging technologies and promote positive learning in an exciting, fresh way,” said Christine Bitetti, technology instruction coordinator for Tech Central. “There is nothing better than hearing the kids marvel with excitement when they put on the headset and are immersed in a 3D environment for the first time.”

The library already has an extensive collaboration with the school district, including biannual library field trips and a new coding workshop for fifth graders in Tech Central taught by Mercy College professors from the math department.

“Our vigorous partnership with the Yonkers Public Library offers students, teachers and families numerous opportunities that may not be available in a school.  The Library’s extensive resources, like the Tech Center, augment our instructional programs,” said Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, superintendent of schools.  “These partnerships also enlighten our families, in fact our entire learning community, about the Library’s initiatives and activities available during and after school as well as on weekends.”

The new virtual reality pilot program will be expanded to other Yonkers classrooms in the Fall. In addition, the library will be offering several virtual reality workshops for teens and adults, including a driver training and safety course, museum tours and Google Expedition, which allows the viewer to explore any region in the world. 

About Yonkers Public Library

The Yonkers Public Library is the largest library in Westchester County and was established in 1893 to serve the citizens of the City of Yonkers. There are currently three branches; Riverfront Library, our main branch, in downtown Yonkers, the Grinton I. Will Branch on Central Avenue and the Crestwood Branch in the Crestwood section of the city. Our mission is to change lives every day. Our expert, trusted staff help all the people of Yonkers find the information they need, the programs they enjoy, and the reading they love. In 2018, the library had over 825,000 visitors, checked out 795,000 items, held 7,200 programs for adults, teens and youth and answered 364,479 reference questions.

Shauna Porteus, Community Services Librarian 
Yonkers Public Library | 1 Larkin Center | Yonkers, NY 10701
(914) 375-7952 | www.ypl.org


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