How UPSHIFT changes the lives of young people in Moldova

The story of a student from Singerei about creating quests in virtual reality

Polina Listopad
Denis is stitting in front of the computer
Denis Hadirca personal archives
31 July 2020

If you were asked which was the most interesting and fascinating school course, how many of you would answer „Mathematics, of course”? Probably few of you.  

What if you were proposed to study formulas and theorems not only from books, but also with the help of virtual reality games? What if, along the way, you could learn how to work in a team? It sounds exciting, doesn’t it? 

All the students from Singerei, Moldova, the hometown of Denis Hadirca, an 18 year-old graduate of the first UPSHIFT Program from Moldova, now have this opportunity.  

Together with his team, ‘VR Foundation’, Denis developed a project under UPSHIFT program, aiming at making the school education more fun and understandable for adolescents. ‘VR Foundation’ creates virtual reality quests in which students can apply their school knowledge.  

‘Last summer I decided to participate in the UPSHIFT Program and my life changed dramatically.’

 

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Denis Hadirca personal archives

The first quest created by the team was entitled ‘Empathy’. The participants are locked in a room and they must solve three mathematical problems and find the key in order to get out. But it’s not that simple. You cannot leave the room unless you work as a team, because you will literally have to ‘watch though each other’s eyes’. The students started to organise this quest weekly, since February 2020, in Singerei Youth Centre.  

I wish all lessons were like that! I never thought Mathematics could be interesting’, confesses Barbara Luchian, student at ‘Olimp’ Theoretical Lyceum, after the quest.  

Besides the quest ‘Empathy’, the team ‘VR Foundation’ created a virtual chemistry laboratory. All the quests are developed by the participants who are counseled by teachers of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry.  

Young people used to come to me every day for advice while developing the quest. I enjoyed a lot working with them and taking a fresh look at the learning process’, said Turcan Gheorghii, Mathematics teacher at the Theoretical Lyceum ‘Olimp’ from Singerei town.  

Before this project, it wasn’t quite clear for me what I would like to do for a living. I was interested in a little bit of everything. Last summer I decided to participate in the UPSHIFT Program and my life changed dramatically’ – says Denis about his participation in the Program. ‘I have always believed that learning is boring and it was very hard for me to force myself to open the books and start studying. I wanted more digital technologies to be implemented in our education system, but I have never thought that I could somehow influence it. UPSHIFT gave me the opportunity to believe in myself and taught me how to turn my ideas into reality, take on a leadership role and change the world around me’  

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Denis Hadirca personal archives
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Denis Hadirca personal archives

Denis and his team attended a six week course at UPSHIFT. They started with the concept of idea, budget planning, presentation of the idea in front of the selection committee and went all the way to project implementation. They received a grant to buy virtual reality headsets, won several national competitions and presented the quest to the Minister of Economy of Moldova.  

According to Denis, an important skill that he acquired during the participation in the project is how to establish a team and assign roles and areas of responsibility. His team included Ivan Gribu, responsible for programming and content development, Dorin Adriuta who was in charge of developing the project and Victor Hadirca, responsible for testing the quests. The guys learned to work harmoniously, helping each other and creating new quests.  

This year I will graduate from school and I plan to be a programmer. I want to continue developing the school education. I think it is very important for students to be interested in learning. After all, when there is interest and desire, great results can be achieved’, concluded Denis.

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Denis Hadirca personal archives
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Denis Hadirca personal archives