Chef Nate Turner holds a Merge Cube as he discusses the Microsoft grant award.


While attending a tech convention, Chef Nate Turner, culinary instructor at the Career Academy and Technical School (CATS), came across an innovative augmented and virtual reality tool that would allow his culinary students to experience various learning experiences with less expense and food waste.

After watching a Merge Cube demonstration, Turner “just fell in love with the program because it was so innovative. I just wanted to be able to expand upon the program.”

The Merge Cube, a foam cube with odd markings on all sides, transforms into 3D objects and simulations, with the help of Merge EDU apps, that can be manipulated, dissected, disassembled, labeled, or interacted with so students can learn in a hands-on way.

The Merge Cube’s engravings are actually codes that connect it to program apps and a rich collection of STEM-based activities and lessons.

Turner wrote a Microsoft grant to obtain the tablets students need to use the $25 Merge Cubes in food science and culinary lessons. He recently learned that Microsoft has awarded 20 SEBBE tablets to his culinary program to pursue his curricular goals.

He can also print and assemble Merge Paper Cubes for students to use until he receives the 20 Merge Cubes.

Turner is excited to have the tools to create this blended STEM, CTE, and culinary program for his students, with the CTE Department contributing a 3D printer to the effort.

Turner demonstrates the Merge Cube displaying a 3-D chicken on the Object Viewer app.

For example, students can use the cube and Merge Object Viewer app to view a chicken, learn its parts, and properly break it down for cooking without the mess, time and expense of actually cutting up 20 chickens.

In addition to learning about animal products and baking science, students in upper level culinary classes can use the Merge Cubes to study nutrition and body system sciences.

“We partner the science of food and body in culinary III and IV,” he said.

The Merge Cube interactions will also help students master their culinary vocabulary with the visual representations in the programs.

The Merge EDU apps allow instructors to upload and label objects to create their own activities or lessons. Students can also create kitchen tools like personalized cookie cutters or icing tips, models, or objects on the programs and print them with the 3-D printer.

The Merge Cube and Merge EDU software help students develop foundational spatial intelligence and abilities that will help them excel in STEM fields. Additionally, adding the sense of touch to digital learning and entering virtual worlds gives students a deeper content connection.

Since students can interact with digital content naturally and intuitively, using visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile senses, their learning will deeper and long-lasting. Students can comprehend complex content more efficiently when they experiencing it first-hand.

Turner believes his EC students will benefit with the addiction of the Merge Cube, improving their focus and comprehension of course content with the hands-on component.

Turner got his culinary degree from Johnson and Wales and his business degree Columbia Southern University. He worked for years in the culinary industry in several restaurants and opened his own culinary and events company 11 years ago.

He began his culinary teaching career in Charlotte at Olympic High School before joining the CATS staff in October.


To see the Merge Cube in action, watch the video demonstration at

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