A Grade 3 student tests out Ben Heyns’ “The Maze” virtual reality game at U-Connect on June 12. Miranda Gathercole Langley Times

VIDEO: Langley students show off virtual reality programs to Microsoft

Students at U-Connect have created programs for Google Cardboard, Microsoft Hololens, Oculus Gear VR

It was his family’s two dogs, two cats and ferret that inspired the enemy in Ben Heyns’ virtual reality game.

Titled “The Maze,” the Grade 11 U-Connect student designed a course where players must collect swords and shields in a massive castle, all while avoiding the giant evil fleas roaming through its halls.

“Honestly, my pets are infected with them (fleas), and I’ve grown to loath them,” he said.

“So, I thought it was a good enemy.”

Heyns is one of several students at the Langley school to beta test their virtual reality programs on Tuesday, and to show off their creations to a representative from Microsoft.

“Our students have been working very hard this year developing virtual reality applications on a variety of platforms like Google Cardboard (virtual reality), like Microsoft Hololens (mixed reality), like Oculus Gear VR (virtual reality),” said John Harris, who teaches information technology to Grade 10, 11 and 12 students.

“And so the kids are rolling out their beta versions and are testing them on some of the younger kids that are coming through to make sure that how they think the game works is how the public will interpret it. So it’s a very crucial step to get the users to do the testing.”

U-Connect, which operates out of Simonds Elementary, is a unique school that blends home schooling with face-to-face classes and online support. Its technology program has proven to be very successful, with past students winning international competitions and awards.

On hand at the beta testing event was Microsoft learning consultant Toby Sheldon, who is working with the school to bring advanced technology into the classroom.

“I’m very honoured to be here to see all of the innovation that has been happening all around us, and what has been done with the Hololens, especially,” he said. “This is something that is on the cutting edge and I’m happy to see this being implemented in the schools. I work directly with schools to implement technology in the classrooms, and this is a shinning example of what can be done.”

The technology — and the skills of the students — have come a long way since the Times last visited in 2016.

Then, the school was piloting Google Cardboard virtual reality devices. Now, it’s all about mixed reality — where virtual objects are layered on top of the real world — and applying the students’ skills to projects that could be sold on the market.

READ MORE: A whole new (virtual) world for Langley students

Students Liam Harder and Liam Troan, for example, are developing a virtual reality fighter jet game that mimics an actual fighter jet, right down to the controls and weapons.

“We thought it would be an interesting experience because it simulates you much more being there — it’s not quite mixed reality yet,” said Troan.

“So we thought it would be interesting to be able to experience being in an actual fighter jet — being able to fly above and maneuver without having the actual risk, and danger, and expensive training to be a fighter jet pilot.

“We’re just in the beginning phase, but we have high hopes for it.”

Also in attendance was U-Connect graduate Ryan Scovill, who is now in his third year of computer science at Simon Fraser University. Scovill was part of the student group that won a robotic competition in Atlanta a few years ago, and recently completed a co-op at company Visier as a developer.

“It was here (at U-Connect) that I got interested into coding,” he said. “It started with flash games — that was back in Grade 2 or 3, so very young. And then through the robotic competitions, that was an awesome experience. It led me down this path into software and coding.”

For more on U-Connect, visit uconnect.sd35.bc.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Liam Harder, student at U-Connect, works on converting a 3D game into virtual reality. Miranda Gathercole Langley Times

Ryan Scovill shows off a Beaglebone he made in school. Miranda Gathercole Langley Times

Microsoft learning consultant Toby Sheldon spoke to students at U-Connect. Miranda Gathercole Langley Times

Just Posted

Langley students get an education in entrepreneurship

Young Entrepreneur Leadership Launchpad program gives students hands-on experience

The man who gave up law school to work in a homeless shelter

Joshua Medcalf is keynote speaker for 2018 Leadership Superconference at Langley Events Centre

Man who abducted and assaulted 11-year-old Langley girl has parole rules tightened

Brian Abrosimo made ‘inappropriate and sexualized’ comments

VIDEO: Langley-based Fraser Valley Fusion 2002A crowned champions in Oregon

Fastpitch team takes Triple Crown Sports Valley South 16U Tournament in Medford

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Naked man jumping into Toronto shark tank a ‘premeditated’ stunt: official

The man swam in a tank at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Mega Millions prize of $654M is nation’s 4th-largest

No one has won the U.S. jackpot in almost three months

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Transport Canada to take new look at rules, research on school bus seatbelts

Canada doesn’t currently require seatbelts on school buses

Sockeye run in Shuswap expected to be close to 2014 numbers

Salute to the Sockeye on Adams River continues until Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

Canucks: Pettersson in concussion protocol, Beagle out with broken forearm

Head coach Travis Green called the hit ‘a dirty play’

Most Read