Elementary: Augmented Reality Tech Lab

Back in October, Anne Hicks and I wrote about our digital program experiences as part of the Little eLit October Tech Challenge. While I focused on a digital storytime for preschool and early elementary aged kids, Anne shared the details of her Augmented Reality Tween Tech Lab for 8-12 year olds. I absolutely loved the program idea and proceeded to plan a similar lab at my library. Don’t you just love the internet, professional networks, and the sharing that ensues?

fablevision_digital_learning_day_2014_bannerEarly this month, I hosted my Augmented Reality Tech Lab afterschool on Digital Learning DayFive people came to the event (four kids and one dad), which turned out to be the perfect size for the first lab. The number sounds small, but assessing the success of the program involved more than counting the number of attendees. Every one of these kids ages 10 & 11 (and the adult) were highly engaged for the entire hour.  They met the goals set out for the lab which included:

  • They learned something new (most of them didn’t know what augmented reality was nor had they used any of these apps before).
  • They were able to talk about how else augmented reality could be or is used.
  • They shared the devices, played and worked together, and helped each other figure out any quirks or challenges.

I introduced the program by telling the attendees that the program was a lab in which we would experiment with some new tools to see what we could do with them while having fun. I hope to have the resources to offer more tech labs for this age group after school and during the summer, so offering this program was an experiment for me, too.

Based on Anne’s suggestions, I followed my intro with a short video about augmented reality and then demonstrated each of the apps detailed here. After each demo, kids had the opportunity to try the app out for about 10 minutes. At the end of the program, kids could go back and use any of the apps we had tried. Kids enthusiastically explored all of the apps as we went along and said they liked all of them, even the PBS apps which they initially thought would be too young for them.

Tools for the program:
iPads- Our library only has one iPad right now, but I also brought mine along with two other iPad minis. We had plenty for this size group. I encouraged attendees to bring their personal iPads if they had one, which one family dad did, but they forgot to bring their Apple ID. (I sent him the app names after the program attended.)

Apple TV, a large monitor, and wifi- To make it easy for the group to see the apps as I talked about them, I mirrored my iPad on to the large TV in our meeting room. Our city’s IT director made this possible using an Apple TV and a wifi network which he set up in this room specifically for this event with a separate router from the wifi that is available to the general public in the library. Because we don’t have great wifi, this essentially prioritizes the devices in the program, making downloading the apps faster and watching videos without buffering possible.  We have used this set up before and it works nicely.

Apps:
colAR mix appcolAR Mix (Puteko Limited, 2013): This app uses coloring sheets as markers. Before the program, I printed out several copies of the free coloring sheets availableon the app developers’ website. Once kids colored in the pages with the provided colored pencils, the app brings them to life. The kids colored about half of their sheets in the ten minutes, but they got to see the effect. This would be a good app to use with more time and reminds me of the Squiggle Fish app I used in storytime last summer.

ARSoccer app

ARSoccer-Augmented Reality Soccer Game (Laan Consulting Corp, 2010): This app is available for iPad or iPhone and is a funapp to get kids moving while exploring what augmented reality can do beyond the static coloring sheets. It’s hysterical to see kids holding an iPad while kicking their feet up in the air! It looked so funny that an adult patron stopped in to see what we were doing and the kids got him to try it. ($1.99)

ARBasketball-Augmented Reality Game (Augmented Pixels Co Ltd, 2013) This free app for iPhone and iPad appealed to the sports fans in the group, but didn’t get any laughs nor did it provide a full body ARBasketball appworkout. I downloaded the marker from developers’ website and some of the kids mentioned that the marker looked similar to a QR code. This app got kids thinking about angle and force as they shot virtual basketballs into the virtual hoop triggered by the real marker that we placed in front of the player on a table or floor. This game offers multi-player options, but we avoided the social media connections and used the single player version, taking turns.

guinness records appGuinness World Records 2014 – Augmented Reality Lite (Guinness World Records, 2013) This free app for iPad and iPhone works with the 2014 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. It’s a little glitchy, but you initiate the app by hovering over the cover and then you can look at 3D versions of or videos about wacky record holders in the book. This was a nice transmedia book tie-in not only for the kids at the program, but also for kids who hang at the library after school. (I brought out my iPad and some of these apps when some similar aged kids were getting a little wiggly the other day.)

These last two apps use augmented reality to create educational games for games.

CyberChase Shape Quest! (PBS Kids, 2013) When I brought this free app (for iPhone and iPad) up on the screen, the kids got aPBS Cyber Chase app little nervous because it seems targeted at a younger audience. But, the kids actually liked this because of the AR interface. This is a geometry based that inspires kids to use their problem solving skills to master puzzles and games. This app is more complex than the sports apps and would be fun to explore for longer with time.

Fetch app

FETCH! LUNCH RUSH (PBS Kids, 2011) This free app uses basic math problems to play a multi-player game that involves making sure there is enough sushi for Fetch’s moviecrew. To play this app, I spread the markers that I downloaded around the room. As we played, kids were presented with a basic addition problem and had to move around the room to find the marker with the right answer. They hovered over the marker with what they thought was the correct answer and a stack of sushi appeared in the app. If it was correct, the timed turn was over and another player was given  problem. (For iPhone and iPad)

Want to know more about Augmented Reality? Check out these quick resources:
How Stuff Works: Augmented Reality
Wikipedia: Augmented Reality
Google Glass as potential Augmented Reality headset

Image Credits:
colAR Mix: iTunes
ARSoccer: iTunes
ARBasketball: iTunes
Guiness World Records: iTunes
Cyber Chase Shape Quest!: iTunes
Fetch Lunch Rush: iTunes

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