Our young digital natives have never known a world without the Internet. We are now raising a generation that will never know a world without Augmented Reality (AR). Explore Interactive is right on target with its new augmented reality tools for STEM education. We must meet kids where they are, in the world we currently live in, which increasingly includes augmented reality. For many teachers and parents, AR is a completely new, mysterious phenomenon. But, if you look around, you will see it’s everywhere, and growing faster than we can imagine.
Like many people, I first discovered augmented reality through Pokemon Go. This was quite embarrassing to my grown son, who had to witness my new obsession as we walked through the streets of Chicago on a warm evening. Apparently, it’s not cool for a 50 something former teacher of physics to be hunting for the elusive Slugma. But I was hooked. This blending of an animated world and real life drew me in and helped my see my son’s sweet home Chicago in a whole new way.
Augmented Reality is all Around Us
I soon learned that augmented reality was being applied to all kinds of things. My dad’s sparkly new Cadillac has augmented reality in its “heads up” display that allows drivers to navigate and see potential hazards without taking their eyes off the road.
Decorating is now a high-tech experience thanks to new apps that place virtual furniture into your home.
Aerial advertising is taking on a whole new meaning thanks to new AR applications like Skyrite.
AR in the Classroom
These are all pretty amazing, but for me, the most exciting augmented reality is happening in the classroom. Teaching physics is sometimes really challenging because of the conceptual understanding required. How do you help kids understand the 3D world with 2D tools? Sure, teaching the fundamentals of kinematics can be done with bowling balls and stomp rockets. But how do you help kids really see and understand things like the makeup of an atom, or global weather patterns? More importantly, how can you capture and maintain the attention and imagination of young students? Teachers are beginning to create and use augmented reality tools in their classrooms with great success. The very best tools, especially for younger students in elementary, transitioning to middle school, will be those that seamlessly blend the real and virtual world. Kids at this age still need to hold onto tangible things that relate and communicate to digitized things. The very best approaches are those that include gamification, which increases motivation and engagement of learners.
Explore Interactive has created a cool new approach to physics education for students in this age group. Just as Pokemon combined its cards with augmented reality, Explore Interactive has combined a card game with an augmented reality experience and of course – science! Kids can learn the basics of energy in a gamified, AR environment. If you’re a teacher or parent looking for just the right mix of old and new school, check it out!
Janine is a career educator, now leading a cool edtech company called Lexplore.
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