EBENSBURG – Central Cambria School District was designated as a pilot site for Google’s Expeditions Pioneer Program, allowing more than 400 students and teachers to test out augmented reality tools Friday in the district’s middle school and high school.
With Google’s Expeditions AR app, teachers can bring 3D objects to students’ desks for examination during class to help bring a variety of subjects to life.
Whereas virtual reality takes you to an experience, augmented reality brings an experience to you, explained Ken Krott, the district’s director of technology.
Krott filed the application that landed Central Cambria as a pilot site, with a Google representative bringing phones with the newly developed app installed, along with equipment for multiple students to use the technology at once.
History students were able to virtually explore military equipment from World War II, science students examined an up-close view of the solar system and math students used the app to virtually roll dice and use probability skills.
“(The students) all say it’s awesome,” Krott said. “It’s something they wouldn’t have been able to experience without this event.”
Chris Santini, middle school principal, said students utilize electronic textbooks with video excerpts and interactive maps, but testing the Google technology with lessons applicable to their classroom instruction “takes it to a whole other level.”
“It’s not the same when you see it on a page in a book,” Santini said. “It’s as close to real life as you can get without it being right in front of you.”
The app is being updated daily with different experiences and educational tools, Santini said, with some students looking inside a hurricane storm system, others studying historical sculptures and getting up close and personal with dinosaurs.
Throughout the day, students and teachers gathered to test the technology and began using it with excitement, which he said means “you know that it’s got to be pretty cool.”
After use of the Google software Friday, Central Cambria students and teachers will give their feedback to the company as it works to fine-tune the technology, Krott said.