early leARning

Augmented Reality is making a mark on classrooms and home learning as devices and developers introduce this powerful new technology to more users worldwide. But what is the purpose of technology and can it be used to enhance early learning?

Augmented Reality is a technology used in your immediate environment. The camera on your device displays visual elements within your physical environment that you can explore and move around in. Audio and interactive features on screen give the user more information about the 3D subject they are viewing.

In the primary school curriculum I see two arms to augmented reality technology:

  1. The skill of creating with augmented reality. This would sit within the Computing subject.
  2. The ability to use augmented reality to learn knowledge. This would sit across all subjects.

For our pupils to create with augmented reality, they need good subject knowledge about the topic that they are applying to their augmented reality creation. There are areas of the science curriculum which traditionally is too abstract for our youngest learners to develop deep understanding of. So the use of augmented reality to give a more concrete experience of these abstract concepts is transformative in the early years.

This post is going to explore topics where young learners can use augmented reality resources to better understand abstract concepts like the human body, space, minibeasts and dinosaurs.

These augmented reality apps are all free of charge:

iSolarSystemAR

Sky View LITE

iDinosaurAR

iOceanAR

Fish Tank AR

iOceanAR

Quiver

Curiscope

Virtual Skeleton

MicroMonsters iExplore

Some of these apps require books or t-shirts which are available to purchase at reasonable prices from resellers such as Amazon:

iSolarSystem Book

Micro Monsters Book

Ocean Monsters Book

Curiscope T-Shirt

The Human Body

Virtual Skeleton displays a full model of a complete skeleton on screen that you can adjust the size of and stand in front of learners. The on screen visuals highlight specific bones and displays their names on screen. Built in the photography feature makes it easy for young learners to capture themselves as skeletons. Almost creating their own X-Ray images!

The curiscope t-shirt is actually a virtual reality product but wearing his product and using the free app gives young learners the opportunity to better understand the position of their organs. With interactive labels and a narrator, subject knowledge of the human body is learned through this on-screen experience.

Space

Using Whatever Next as a stimulus text, young learners where challenged to find out which planets and constellations Baby Bear would see on his journey to The Moon. Outdoors, young learners used the free SkyView LITE app to view the positions of planets, stars and satellites in real time from their location. Using the built in camera, they took photographs of teddy bears on their outdoor area passing by the planets and stars.

By tapping on the planets or stars, young children can learn names and simple facts in age-appropriate sentences.

Back inside the classroom, the iSolarSystem book brought a high level text to an age-appropriate level using augmented reality. The pages of the book act as trigger images and display 3D models of the universe, for example.

The enquiry question ‘which planet has the most moons’ was easy to answer independently and young learners could explore each planet in detail and make their own observations by counting moons displayed on screen.

Minibeasts

Whenever I go outdoors to find micro-monsters it is always the day when there is hardly anything to find. If we do find something, our equipment of plastic magnifying glasses never get us close enough to the details. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go on a bug hunt, but before we do, let’s use augmented reality to train our young learner’s eyes to look closely and make careful observations first.

With the Micro Monsters book and free Micro Monsters iExplore book, children can zoom in to all kinds of insects and explore 3D models much closer. This is powerful for children learning at home or in places where these habits cannot be easily accessed.

Under The Sea

During pandemic restrictions or in a time of ethical debate, taking learners to places like aquariums or sea-life centres may not be an option. But learning about ocean habitats is more important now than ever before. So to bring this abstract world to life for young leaners, augmented reality books and apps make sea life learning accessible.

With the Ocean Monsters book, the pages act as trigger images for children to view large sea creatures like sharks and whales. The AR Tour Ocean app gives learners the opportunity to visit an aquarium in their classroom. With interactive labelling to teach them the names of a wide variety of sea creatures. And the Fish Tank AR is a chance for pupils to create their own under water habitat in their own home or school.

Purposeful Consumption

The use of augmented reality to learn more abstract concepts means young learners are consuming technology purposefully. With more concrete experiences of abstract scientific concepts, young learners can go on to create with this new knowledge as the technology has enabled learning in their school or home environment.

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