by Jamie Moody
Marketing Director


ATG was honored this week to host a plot in the Tinker Space at the annual EAST Conference in Hot Springs, Ark., and we’re all feeling a bit more inspired than usual after the experience.

EAST stands for Environmental and Spatial Technology, and it continues to prove itself as a model that’s been ahead of its time for education. Their mission is pretty simple: provide students with an atmosphere that encourages them to explore, to solve real-world problems and come together to showcase these incredible ideas and solutions. This year’s conference hosted more than 2,500 students from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. It’s very possible other states were represented, but these were the states ATG encountered in our Tinker Space.

So how did ATG end up in this mix?

Facebook partnered recently with the Arkansas Department of Education to donate $1 million in VR technology to low-income high schools around the state, which translated to 500 Oculus Rift kits for 250 schools around the state. It’s a good start, but ATG President Ben Hollowell saw a need for more, so ATG donated more than 700 Google Cardboard kits to the EAST students at convention.

Over the course of 2 days, staff members from ATG watched with mild amusement at these kids – who’s ages ranged from elementary school students to EAST alumni who are attending colleges on the coasts – as they explored the architectural renderings hosted at through the Google Cardboard headsets. To see something that’s really a pretty simple technology when compared to the HTV Vive or Oculus Rift give these kids such obvious delight was pretty amazing. It also shined a light on the fact that these kids want to explore what the Future of Design looks like. They want to see and feel the technology that’s pushing us toward that future. If something as simple as Google Cardboard headsets can be this inspiring for the group of kids who are already ahead of many of their peers, what happens if the State of Arkansas put a VR headset in EVERY school?

It’s certainly something we think is worth exploring.

This week’s events has inspired us to look for fun technology to post about, so in honor of Friday and because of the creative wonder of the EAST kids we met this week, we give you a couple of links to explore on your own:

LEGO tape turns virtually any surface into a toy brick building base

The ‘Minecraft Effect?’: Educators hope to move students from VR consumption to creation