Callaway High tests Google Expeditions augmented reality learning technology

Published 9:00 pm Friday, March 2, 2018

When Callaway High students Beyounce Williams and Elijah Godfrey entered Laura Banks’ biology class on Friday, they did not know they were going to experience running with an extinct Tyrannosaurus Rex or pollinating a flower with a bee. As members in a class that was test group for the Google Expeditions Augmented Reality Pioneer Program (Expeditions), that is exactly what they did.

With Expeditions, teachers and students map the physical classroom and place 3D objects like one of Michelangelo’s statues on the students’ desks, so that everyone can examine the statue together at the same time. Anything from a strand of DNA to a whirling tornado can be brought into the classroom. Students can get up close to see detail of the subject or step back to get a sense of scale and point out new discoveries together. Teachers are able to highlight specific points of interest on the object and incorporate it to suit the lesson.

Both Callaway High and Gardner Newman Middle Schools were chosen to be a part of the beta testing group before Google releases the 3-D educational ‘tours’. During the testing phase, Google is seeking to enhance the virtual reality education version by adding special effects that will take a learner on a tour of subjects. Some of the tours include geometry, plants and animals, environmental events, and World War I.

An example of a tour included Banks’ opening the Expeditions on DNA, natural disasters and animals for her biology students.

After opening the app for each lesson, students used a QR code located on the desk to step inside of each lesson.

Both Godfrey and Williams agree that the Expeditions experience is fun and it makes coming to class more enjoyable.

“I will be able to use this type of technology to engage my students in learning. It will open up their reality because they can experience being close to something that is microscopic,” Banks, their biology instructor, said. “This technology can give them a larger version of something as small as a cell, and it will help enhance their learning experience.”

Google Expeditions Augmented Reality is still in the testing phase.

They currently have 20 tours populated into the system but hope to have hundreds by the time the technology is rolled out. A release date for Google Expeditions has not been established.