Molecules in Augmented Reality

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonOne of the challenges in science is to help students make connections from concepts to their real world. This can be a particular challenge in the field of chemistry. We talk about atoms, molecules, chemical reactions… but how does that connect with the things we see every day?

Augmented reality is one way to make connections from the abstract to the real world. We’ve seen Aurasma in use in the science classroom before. This free app allows students to create content that becomes an overlay on the actual item. The “aura” is triggered through image recognition. Students can overlay videos, web content, or images on their trigger images. Allowing video and web content means that Aurasma is a great candidate for “app smashing.”

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Science and Math simulations for your class

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonOne of the big challenges in the math and science classroom is to make abstract concepts real for your students. Whether we’re talking about how changes in the intercept of a line will affect its placement on a graph or how batteries push electricity through a circuit, a lot of imagination is required to make the concept real for the learner. In today’s post, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite online resources that not only provides visualizations of science and math concepts, but also allows students to manipulate variables to see how they relate to outcomes. Continue reading

Chatterpix in the classroom

A new iOS app to blab about — literally!

Chatterpix is a free iOS app that allows you to put tiny mouths on your photos and give them silly voices. I am not making any of this up. Here’s one of a crab explaining facts about crustaceans:

Cool things about Chatterpix:

  1. Easy to use: choose a photo, draw a line for the mouth and record the message. Boom! Done.
  2. You don’t need to create an account to use it
  3. It’s free
  4. You’re limited to 30 seconds of audio, thus focusing students on the essential elements of storytelling.

There are so many ways you could use this in an educational setting:

  • have students animate a favorite photo of themselves with messages for a virtual exhibition — great for students with social anxiety issues around presenting;
  • record the morning school announcements;
  • create a map of a country and give each state it’s own voice;
  • have students record bios of famous historical figures (HT Matt Bergman)

“Bios” could actually be recorded for just about anything that will hold still long enough: moss, trees, VW Vanagons, abacuses, graham crackers, more moss, just of a different kind. There’s something about the ability to give silly voices (along with glasses, top hats, scarves and electric guitars) to items and get into the storytelling groove that’s incredibly appealing.

In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that if I’d gotten to write dialogues for animated chemistry molecules, I’d’ve passed Chem on the first try:

As an educator, you could also record yourself giving instructions for a lesson; modeling that bio of a famous historical figure; create a map of a significant place in a book your class is reading and APP-SMASH: photos + Chatterpix + other photos + Thinglink = APP-SMASH! YES!

Or you could just record dogs talking about which strand they’re taking at this year’s Code Camp:



What could you do with Chatterpix and your students?

3 Educators Having Way Too Much Fun on YouTube

First up: Mr. Betts, who in addition to sporting a terrible British accent and pretending to fling tea all over Boston and recording a history of Halloween traditions (You Don’t Know Jack (o’Lanterns)) made this terrifying earworm of a video about 17th century economists. Yes, set to the tune of “What Does the Fox Say?” it’s “What Does John Locke Say?”

 

 

Don’t click the link. Don’t do it. You will never get that song out of your head.

Aw.

 

Second, we have these students, see, who thought they were being interviewed for a graduation video. Well, they were. But what they didn’t realize is that in every interview, their teachers at Ogden High, in Ogden, Utah, were dancing up a storm behind them.

 

 

Well played, teachers.

 

And lastly, this chemistry teacher raps over a Rick Ross beat to get his students into stoichiometry (which I just had to go look up, so there’s another brain moved by this video).

 

 

EPIC STOICHENTATION.

So. What other things are educators getting up to on YouTube?

Brian Wagner on Aurasma, continued

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The annual Rube Goldberg Challenge is an opportunity for students to engage in their inner creative, design-build personalities. They are tasked with completing a simple task through a complex, convoluted, over the top device that incorporates simple machine physics and creative problem solving. There are limits to their space, time, and materials (nothing banned form school for instance). The machines that are created range from functionally simplistic to extremely clever but all offer students a chance to personalize the experience. The one part of the project that has not been emphasized over the past several years is charging students with explaining their thought process as they develop, test, and redesign their design. The use of several different iPad apps were explored during this project to see how students could benefit from documenting their thinking as they went through a problem solving process.

Half of the student groups used the Explain Everything app to document via video, text, photos their thought process, while the other half used the Aurasma app to do the same. There were some challenges with the Aurasma app because our internet connectivity was poor in the Middle Gym so reaching Aurasma was difficult and the video cannot be edited prior to attaching to an Aura (trigger). The Explain Everything app appears to be better suited for this type of activity; where students could collect their thoughts on different slides or even have multiple videos on one slide.

Students were asked to reflect on the use of their app when the project was complete. Their feedback brings me back to the SAMR model and how it relates to my research question of using technology to enhance meta-cognition In this project, the Aurasma app did not fit the bill very well for allowing students to document their thinking over time. The app and the activity were not well suited; the video cannot be paused and continued, so students were unable to document their thinking over time. The Explain Everything app had both positive and negative reviews from students but with some additional practice with the app, students will be more comfortable with the potential to revisit their prior thoughts and construct new thinking. Ideally, students would have an opportunity to document their process and then be given another similar activity to complete using what they have collected on the Explain Everything app as a guide.

 

Brian Wagner teaches 8th grade science at Harwood Union Middle School in Moretown VT. You can reach him on twitter: @swagsci

Brian Wagner on: Aurasma and the Periodic Table

An augmented reality periodic table

One of our partner educators, Brian Wagner, teaches eighth grade science at Harwood Union Middle School, in Moretown VT. This past spring, he used Aurasma with his students to bring elements of the periodic table to life in a gallery walk.

The Rube Goldberg Challenge was not a good fit for the Aurasma app as a means of documenting thinking over time, but it proved to be a good tool for students to teach each other about the periodic table.

In essence, students jig-sawed their knowledge about specific sections of the Periodic Table to create a larger perspective about the trends, patterns, and curiosities of table.

Memorizing the elements of the periodic table is a complete waste of time (a personal opinion but one generally recognized as valid).

Understanding the information stored in the table because of the way it is constructed unlocks chemistry at a deeper level. The author Sam Keane in his book The Disappearing Spoon writes that “…at its simplest level, the periodic table catalogs all the different kinds of matter in our universe, the hundred-odd characters whose headstrong personalities give rise to everything we see and touch. The shape of the table also gives scientific clues as to how those personalities mingle with one another in crowds….”

My objective for this activity is for students to begin to recognize the trends and personalities and teach each other about different sections using Augmented Reality. The assignment is presented in the attached file- The Periodic Table Assignment 2013

The students researched as per the assignment criteria and prepared a video presentation of their element group. They were allowed to create the video in periodicpullwhatever manner they wanted- many did not want to be onscreen but talked through their information while writing it out on paper. Some used a chalk board for added effect. Others set it up as a news cast. Each group created a simple Aura (trigger) to activate the video.

The Auras were placed around the middle school Gallery in their respective groups and an iPad was stationed at each of these areas to use for the video presentation. Students rotated throughout the gallery, watching each other’s videos and taking notes about each section. Initially I wanted each student group to prepare an annotated photo of a periodic table with the information they collected. This would act as a summarizing aspect to their learning. Unfortunately there was not enough time to go through the gallery walk and do the Skitch challenge. The following day we lost our Wi-Fi , the iPads were needed for other classes when it returned, and the opportunity was lost.
During the class time with no internet, students took a quick quiz about the periodic table. The quiz was used as a means to discuss their findings further and clear up misconceptions that arose during their research. There will be a follow-up summative quiz (using Socrative) to determine how much information has been internalized. That will be a separate post.

The use of the Aurasma app was received well by students for this activity. They saw the value in researching, outlining, and preparing a presentation that others would learn from.

Because their audience was a little bigger (the entire 8th grade) they took more time to prepare and shoot the video (manyappsglance with multiple takes to get it right). Their personal creativity was valued and the questions that arose from their research made good conversations that would have been missing from a straight up lecture about the topic.

One of the drawbacks to the app was having to hold the iPad over the Aura while watching the video. However, one student figured out that by double tapping on the video while it was playing would take the video to full screen and allow it continue playing in any position. iMovie would also be a preferred video tool for making the videos more polished.

Unfortunately iMovie is not on our iPads yet, although one student convinced me to download it for him, where he proceeded to take three individual videos his group made into one smooth presentation.

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