Motorsports star J.R. Hildebrand and product designer Viktor Venson would like to see technology make its way into classrooms much more quickly—like Formula 1 fast. Together they’ve developed IndyLabVR, a virtual reality experience that uses racecars to teach thermodynamics and chronometry (the study of how heat and temperature relate to energy and work, and the science of time measurement, respectively) to ninth grade Physics students. Any educator or student with a Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard headpiece and a smartphone can download and watch the program for free. And it’s really cool. The three-and-a-half-minute demo—funded in part by the Wasserman Foundation and created by VR Production, VFX, and ACNE, NOODLES—shows instead of tells, essentially giving the viewer a front-row seat to a science demonstration that’s as easy to follow as it is hard to forget.
IndyLabVR debuted at Green Dot High Schools in California (you can see students checking it out in Watts in October in the pictures above and below). Now Venson and Hildebrand hope to create more virtual reality lessons and roll out the program to more classrooms. Then—maybe—they’ll start thinking about how to turn IndyLabVR into a more traditional business commodity. “We’re extremely focused on building an amazing product first,” says Venson. “We’re not starting to make money. We’re doing this to show that education can have and deserves good design.”