Kickstarter >> Kosmos School: The First K-12 School in Virtual Reality by Kosmos School


If we can fix education, we can fix all of world's problems. With all the technological progress we've made in the past century, education hasn't changed fundamentally. Virtual reality is the next big computing platform, and will change the way we work, play and learn. Being in virtual reality feels like you're really there, and this is the key to a great school. With Kosmos School, we'll reduce the costs of education by a factor of 10, while delivering greater quality than traditional schools today.

Who are you?

We're a tiny startup consisting of Dorena, Merilee and Can:

The Kosmos Team in VR. From left to right: Can, Dorena, and Merilee.
The Kosmos Team in VR. From left to right: Can, Dorena, and Merilee.
Our cozy sofa corner in our San Francisco office with view on Market Street. We built our tables and sofas from scratch. As you see we love plants and as time goes by this will turn into a jungle. Pledge $1 to help us water our plants :-)
Our cozy sofa corner in our San Francisco office with view on Market Street. We built our tables and sofas from scratch. As you see we love plants and as time goes by this will turn into a jungle. Pledge $1 to help us water our plants :-)

We are software engineers and 3D artists and build amazing virtual reality experiences. We're motivated by applying our skills to improve education. We're supported by Julia, our AP Physics teacher who helps us develop the class content and will run our classes:

Our Physics teacher, Julia. Here seen with Steve.
Our Physics teacher, Julia. Here seen with Steve.

Dorena and Can are the founders of Kosmos and moved to San Francisco to from their native Switzerland in order to build Kosmos. Merilee is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but now also lives in San Francisco. Julia can be found hanging out in sunny Los Angeles.

How does Kosmos work?

We're building a project-based school. This means that students work in small teams and with the help of a teacher, need to reach an objective. In order to be successful, students need to figure out what to learn and how to learn it. The teacher acts as a facilitator.

The great thing about project-based learning is that it revolves around real world challenges, and students not only learn hard skills, but also relevant skills like collaboration, agency, critical thinking and creativity. 

While our ambition is to build a full K-12 curriculum, we know that this won't happen over night. Therefore, we're currently working on our first class that will start in November.

Our first class, Rocket Escape

Our first class is premiering in November and is called Rocket Escape. A team of five students find themselves stranded on a foreign planet called Arbel-14. Soon, they realize that the only way back home is to build a rocket 🚀

An early version of the rocket and the elevator to get up to it. One of our rewards is a 3D printed rocket!
An early version of the rocket and the elevator to get up to it. One of our rewards is a 3D printed rocket!

Rocket Escape consists of eight 1-hour sessions over the course of two weeks. Students and the teacher meet in our virtual world at scheduled times and collaboratively work on achieving the ultimate goal of building a 70 meter high rocket.

What a view! At the end of the class, students can actually take the elevator up to the rocket, board it and fly away! This feels like magic, even to us after doing it for hundreds of times.
What a view! At the end of the class, students can actually take the elevator up to the rocket, board it and fly away! This feels like magic, even to us after doing it for hundreds of times.
For example, students will need to calculate how much rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) is needed in order to reach escape velocity. They will learn quickly that this is one of the things you don't want to be wrong about in life.
For example, students will need to calculate how much rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) is needed in order to reach escape velocity. They will learn quickly that this is one of the things you don't want to be wrong about in life.

Rocket Escape is designed for 13 to 15-year-olds and teaches subjects from Physics, Chemistry and Materials Sciences. Furthermore, students hone their critical thinking, collaboration, planning and creativity skills.

This is Little Helper Dude (LHD). LHD swirls around you and helps you out if you need him to. One of our rewards is a 3D printed version of LHD :-)
This is Little Helper Dude (LHD). LHD swirls around you and helps you out if you need him to. One of our rewards is a 3D printed version of LHD :-)

Check out our early demo here. Note, this will look much, much cooler once we're done in November. Make sure to turn on audio to hear some commentary by Can.

What do you need the money for?

We're already knee-deep in developing Rocket Escape. We will need the money to eat, drink and have a roof over our heads for the next 2 months until we're finished with the development and can start offering the course to students for money.

FAQ

Q: Isn't virtual reality, like, a fad?

A: Nope! Within a decade, we will use virtual reality devices as much as we use our laptops and smartphones today. To do everything, from working, playing and mot importantly, learning. Virtual reality is becoming powerful, convenient and cheap right now. The Oculus Go started the mainstream movement of VR by offering a stand-alone headset for only $199. Up until the release of the Go in May 2018, almost all VR headset needed to be plugged in to a computer to work. No wonder only hardcore gamers used them. Or would you use your smartphone if it only worked when you plugged it in to your computer?

Q: Isn't virtual reality bad for my kid?

A: Like for every piece of technology, we believe that it's the parents' responsibility to teach their kids how to use VR in a healthy way. When used correctly, VR can be an amazing tool for you and your kids to travel to distant places, learn about science and other things in an amazingly new way, or just to play a silly game. Make sure your kids know the pros and cons of technology (and VR), give them agency to use it responsibly. And they will.

Q: What are the health risks with virtual reality?

A: Some people can experience motion sickness while in VR. This depends on a couple of factors: You as a person, your hardware, the experience you're in. Firstly, a great VR experience is designed so that it reduces the risk of motion sickness. For example, the greatest source of motion sickness is if the user is moved around automatically and in an unnatural way (e.g., sideways). We take great care to craft experiences that make you feel good. Secondly, we recommend getting the Oculus Go. The Oculus Go has a high display refresh rate (72 Hz) and this further reduces the possibility of getting motion sick. In our test so far, motion sickness didn't occur in Rocket Escape and we're pretty certain you will be fine. If you want to read more about health and virtual reality, we recommend this article.

Q: How old should the students be?

A: Rocket Escape targets students between the ages of 13-15, but if your kid is slightly older that should also work.

Q: Do I need a virtual reality headset?

A: Yes, you do. You need either the Oculus Go or the Samsung Gear VR with a controller. We recommend the Oculus Go.

Q: What's the class schedule?

A: Check out our schedules on the Rocket Escape page.

Q: Do I need to travel somewhere to attend?

A: Nope. The cool thing about VR is that all you need to get there is to put on a headset. Rocket Escape can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home.

Q: How much is your regular price for Rocket Escape?

A: We charge currently $100 as an introductory price, but the regular price will be more around the $200 mark. For this, you get 8 hours of kickass experience with a real teacher and learn a lot about rockets and the real science behind them.

We're already about 20% done with the development, and have the skills and knowledge to build everything ourselves. Probably the biggest risk is that something unforeseen (like someone stealing all our computers) happens and we can't finish the development until the launch of our first class.

Another, minor risk is that students absolutely hate Rocket Escape. Based on our tests and interest so far, however, we don't think this will be the case.

The biggest challenge is that nobody (we've heard of) ever taught a project-based class in VR with 5 students. So we don't know how it really is, and there might be some things that we didn't think of. We're confident that Julia will do an excellent job, though :-)

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