Living environment students in Jen Cauthers’ class colored in their plant and animal cell diagrams, hovered their phones over them and watched them come to augmented 3D life in class recently. Using the Quiver augmented-reality app, the Mahopac High School students were able to look into their creations in depth in a way previously impossible.
“It’s fascinating,” said student Makenly Crisman. “It makes the diagram three dimensional, so you can really see everything that is there.”
Cauthers has been using both virtual reality devices, in which students see a digital re-creation of a real-life setting, and augmented reality devices, which deliver virtual elements overlaid onto a real-world setting, in her science classes this year and has seen her students’ interest pique.
“It makes lessons more engaging and interactive for them,” she says.
For virtual reality, students use cardboard goggles called Google Cardboard. Students put the goggles on and view videos on their phones while wearing the goggles. Students then use Cardboard-compatible applications on their phones to watch class-appropriate videos, placing the phones into the back of the viewer.
There are also hundreds of virtual “field trips” that teachers can guide students through using Google cardboard.
“We did a tour of the Galapagos Islands using Google Cardboard, and the students were really engaged in it,” Cauthers said. “You felt like you were immersed in the islands. You could see all the different types of coral and fish species close up.”
Because not all students have smart phones, the district purchased a trial Google Expedition set, which will arrive this summer and be beta tested. It will include about 30 devices. Cauthers said teachers hope to use it on a widespread group of students next year and potentially purchase more as needed.
Students using the Quiver augmented-reality app can not only see their diagrams popping right off the page, but they can make recordings and videos as well. “They can record a tutorial on the app, and it also has a quiz on the diagram that students can take,” Cauthers said, which helps them memorize the material.
The technology is evolving all the time, according to Cauthers. “It really is the beginning of an exciting new way of learning.”