INDIANAPOLIS - A charter school in Indianapolis that focuses on helping students who are battling substance abuse s turning to a high-tech solution to boost engagement. Hope Academy, which is sponsored by the city and connected to Fairbanks Addiction Treatment Center, is partnering with Iowa-based startup VictoryVR on STEM-centered virtual reality technology. The goggles and software, VictoryVR founder Steve Grubbs says, take students to historic and significant sites, teaching them lessons created from curriculum based on national science standards.

Hope Academy Chief Operating Officer Rachelle Gardner says the technology gives students that have not seen a lot of success in the classroom "a whole new perspective." She says it helps them focus by taking away distractions, offering "engagement in learning (that) also improves engagement in recovery." Gardner adds "as we've learned -- our students -- the first part of the brain that heals as they get clean and sober is the visual part. This is a great way for them to learn. It really puts them back in engagement into wanting to learn, wanting to graduate, and then go on and do other great things."

VictoryVR technology is used by educators, as well as agriculture companies. Students can use it to take virtual field trips and engage in some four dozen lessons with 240 unique experiences.