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Augmented Reality in the Classroom

Students and teachers at Washington Middle School recently participated in a unique opportunity to experience and test Google’s new Expeditions Augmented Reality app.  This virtual augmented reality teaching tool allows teachers to lead their students through immersive field trips without leaving their classrooms.

Washington teacher and technology coordinator Melinda Clare sent the School Bulletin a detailed report, noting that there are 19 augmented realities currently in beta testing with more slated to be developed.  Using phones and selfie sticks, eighth grade students experienced the Solar System by “walking” through an asteroid belt, and going to the center of the sun and other planetary bodies.  Seventh grade students got a bird’s eye view of a hurricane and experienced the storm’s eye in addition to viewing three-dimensional tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis.  Sixth grade students visited ancient Rome, the Colosseum, and the streets of Pompeii, and they walked through a trireme-type warship.

Learn more and view a sample video from Google at edu.google.com/expeditions/ar.

At Washington, Clare said, one of the eighth graders reacted by exclaiming, “It’s like you’re feeling the learning!” His science teacher, Vimmy Flores, observed, “It really helps the student visualize the concepts being taught further than it can be explained, and it’s through a medium that engages students.  And it’s a technology they’re already familiar with.”

One student who had been having difficulty learning was talking, laughing, smiling and engaging in this activity – a notable first for this student.

The virtual reality app, Expeditions by Google, can be downloaded free for Android and iOS devices and has over 700 expeditions.  Virtual reality offers an immersive experience, while augmented reality also alters the current setting (for instance, an asteroid belt’s meteors seem to float in mid-air in the classroom).  Clare said the beta-version augmented reality will be an add-on to the virtual reality app currently being tested in select locations in Illinois, New York, Texas, and California, with no target release date currently set.

AUGMENTED REALITY – Washington Middle School eighth graders James Scott-Jay and Christopher Cruz try out Google’s augmented reality app, which produces immersive, moving images that appear as if they are floating in the classroom.  Here the students examine a solar system from the bottom up.