The VR fascination

If you visit your child’s school this fall, you might notice students holding cardboard goggles in front of their faces while they spin and walk around the gym.

VR, or virtual reality, has come to schools this fall.

Although the potential of teaching applications hasn’t yet been realized, thanks to low-budget headsets and platforms, more teachers are experimenting with VR.

The novelty factor is still high, so learning outcomes might be minimal. However, as more researchers and educators come together, classroom use will become more defined.

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Zero-waste school lunches?

I expected the Starbucks move to replace plastic straws with “adult sippy cups” and sustainable straws to carry over into school cafeterias, but I haven’t seen that this fall.

Years ago, elementary grade students were huge drivers in the eco-move to “reduce, re-use, recycle.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if students at all levels of education begin to embrace the zero waste movement.

Soft skills for students?

I’m interested to see if middle schoolers will be developing what’s called “soft skills” this fall.

There’s been a lot of chatter that digital natives – kids who have been raised in today’s tech-driven world – are growing up as mere computer geeks.

As a result, students today aren’t learning how to communicate with others, get along in a team situation or collaborate to solve a problem.

So will these and other so-called “soft skills” find their way into classrooms?

We’ll see.

Device management goes to school

Management of mobile devices is a huge issues in schools this fall.

Some schools have banned smartphones, laptops and all personal technology, choosing instead to give students “tech breaks.”

Other teachers are using a system which shuts down smartphones. Compliance is digitally tracked by the teacher and punished with grade deductions.

This attention to curbing device usage has roots in research: data shows that multitasking is a myth. When our brain focuses on one thing, it shuts down something else. This rapid attention-switching can result in lower grades, which is the reason educators are rethinking their previous, lenient approach to digital devices.

Ten days and counting

Nickelodeon’s 15th annual Worldwide Day of Play is scheduled for Saturday, September 29.

As usual, the kidcaster will suspend programming from noon to 3 pm (EST) to encourage health and wellness through play.

Seeing through the glass

Around the world, transparent drinks have become the newest “must have” beverage.

As I write this, Starbucks hasn’t started to offer clear coffee, but coffee-stained teeth might become a problem of the past if this trend catches on.

Overseas, Coke has launched a transparent variety, minus the caramel which colors the drink.

I can’t help but wonder how soon kids will be packing school lunches with drinks that are as clear as day.

Fast-rising fakes

“Authentic” and “real” have driven marketers trying to reach millennial parents, but change is coming.

The word “fake” might attract the next generation of parents.

Fake meat, which uses plant alternatives that look and taste like meat, is growing in popularity among young adults.

Will new moms and dads serve children vegan burgers that sizzle (like meat) on the grill? Serve sushi made from tomatoes?

When preschooler’s play food assortments offer “plant-based alternatives,” we’ll know the shift is real.