Friday, October 13, 2017

Google Expedition Augmented Reality in the Classroom



Augmented Reality is having digital images in the physical environment viewed through a device.  One of our second graders says, "It's a real world and a fake world. It's really cool and I don't think there would be a hurricane on a sunny day." Her class participated in the viewing of 'Forces of Nature', so they had a chance to experience a natural disaster up close.  They saw a hurricane, a tornado swirl, an volcano erupt, and the movement of tectonic plates all in the classroom. 

I signed up for Google Expedition AR Pioneer Program back in May 2017 and the expedition team was in New York in September so they came to visit our school.  I was super excited! The associates arrived an hour earlier before the students to set up two classrooms. They had to map the room and "leave" the objects in a few open areas. Then the teachers came to get a brief lesson on how to use the devices and what to anticipate. Due to the age restrictions, only grades 2 to 5 got to participate. 

There is a variety of AR experiences the teachers can choose from: Solar System, Landforms, Circulatory/Immune/Respiratory System, DNA & RNA, Animals, and many more.  The students were psyched about the experience and related it to Pokemon Go. Our favorites were the Solar System, Circulatory System, and Animals.  We were in awe when we saw the Sun, Moon, Earth, and Saturn right above us.  We zoomed into the rings around Saturn. In the Circulatory System, it was cool to see the oxygen and blood travel through the atrium and ventricle of the heart. The younger students were thrilled to see a deer, salamander, and lobster in the aisles of the classroom.  We also saw a planaria, aka flatworm for the first time that day! Yuck!

Since this is just the beginning there is some limitation to the depth of each experience but I can imagine what AR can bring to the classroom in the future.  It can take a difficult topic in science such as the function of the heart and make it more of a reality for the students to visually see, hear, and "touch" the object in order to enhance their understanding.  Overall, we had a good experience and look forward to what's to come with augmented reality.