Students at Monte Sano Elementary Experience Augmented Reality Lessons with Help from Google

Imagine being able to fly around the solar system or examine the inside of a bee, all without having to leave the room.  That’s exactly what students at Monte Sano Elementary were able to do today thanks to a Google Expeditions visit to demo its Augmented Reality (AR) technology.  The program, which began in the Fall of 2017, seeks to bring engaging lessons to classrooms across the country by allowing students to take virtual field trips unlike anything offered before.

In one lesson, students are able to see the celestial bodies of our solar system hovering over their desks, and even walk around them or ‘fly’ in for a closer look.  The software, which is similar in some respects to the wildly popular Pokèmon Go, augments the space around students by mapping the area with the device’s camera.  It then superimposes interactive three-dimensional objects onto the space.  According to Rosie Gullion, a student at Monte Sano, Google Expeditions are much better than Pokèmon Go because “you get to go inside of stuff and learn about planets or anything else you see.”

Logan Hayles says, “the coolest thing I saw today was probably the inside of a bee.”  He mentions tiny yellow hexagons that he saw inside which might be pollen, and he wonders how it got there.  Did the bee eat it?  Why?  These are the kinds of leading questions teachers love to hear, because it means learning is taking place.

Faith Plunkett, an instructor with the Entertainment Technology Academy, states that it’s all about exposing students to as many opportunities as possible.  Ms. Plunkett says, “We strive to create a curriculum and a way of learning that uses technology and is completely engaging, personalized, and fun.”  She also adds that students are growing up with technology, so we must create learning experiences which use it in effective ways to enhance their learning.  The excitement from the students during the lesson, the questions it made them ask, and the disappointment when it was over seem to indicate that augmented reality lessons can certainly be an effective tool in a teacher’s repertoire.

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