Cutting-edge technology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education is now inside a Peoria classroom. The new technology may help students gain a better understanding of the environment by utilizing a three-dimensional virtual world.
At Cotton Boll Elementary, they've tapped into something that children really love -- video games -- and this tool comes straight from Harvard.
"You learn the difference between one island and why they go to one over another," says 7th grader Paola Sanchez.
The program simplifies science and shows how fun research can be. Science teacher Elizabeth Gonzales uses the technology called EcoMuve with her 7th graders. It analyzes two real islands with animals and data collected over many decades.
"We are trying to find different animals and trees," says Brayan Ruiz.
"Over a 45 year span they will analyze deer population and they may be looking at the deer ticks and whether they're bringing lime disease and influencing the deer population as well," says Gonzales.
8th graders are using it too in a similar system called EvoMuve Pond.
"The pond is based off a real pond in MA. What happens is the kids collect info on the fish and the fish die. The kids have to analyze the data and find out what happened to the fish," says Mike Treguboff.
The technology is so useful, Cotton Boll middle schoolers say it beats reading a textbook.
"I think I like this better," says Paola.
The program is federally funded, built by Harvard and offered for free for school districts.
Teachers from the Peoria Unified School District were trained in January on how to use the equipment.