‘Crucible’ comes alive through virtual reality

Mrs. Smith’s 11th-graders traveled back in time to the 17th century recently through the use of virtual reality technology.

The class, which is reading Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible,” got to see firsthand what life was like in the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s, which forms the setting for the play.

Through virtual reality, students were able to see a 360-degree view of settings from the play, including the inside of a home. What the students saw was in some ways surprising, explained Mr. Mathy, who partnered with Mrs. Smith to lead the lesson.

“It was surprising to some of the students that everyone in the family would share a single bedroom,” said Mr. Mathy, who teaches STEAM classes and provides technology integration support to teachers throughout the district.

In addition to bringing to life some of the details of the play, which is based on real people and real events, Mr. Mathy said the VR experience can help the students see the world through the eyes of the characters.

“It makes it real to them that we’re talking about real people and real places. If you can step into somebody else’s world, you’re more likely to see things from their perspective.”

Mr. Mathy also encouraged students to draw parallels, comparing how exciting it can be for a young person to draw attention to herself, and how that attention can backfire or bring about unintended consequences.

“I was able to link it for them and say, ‘Just like you might get a little bit of a dopamine hit from likes on Instagram, think how this girl would feel when she became the focal point of her entire community,” Mr. Mathy explained.

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