Bringing Digital Teaching Aids into your Classroom with AR

Guest blog By Jaime Donally

Bringing Digital Teaching Aids into your Classroom with AR

By Jaime Donally

Have you ever run across a concept that was difficult to explain without using a picture, video, or an object to connect the dots? I can remember my first year teaching 6th grade math and drilling my students over and over again that the total sum of angles in a triangle is 180 degrees. No matter how many times I said it, I found the students would never remember when I asked again later.

One day, I decided to play a bit of a trick on my students. I cut out various size triangles using cardstock paper and asked the students to group up and measure the angles using a protractor. After calculating the total sum, they had to write down their answers and pass the triangles to another group. I challenged the groups to try to find the correct answers for each triangle and the group that found the closest correct answers won a prize. I remember the teams working diligently and secretly to solve the answers. It didn’t take long before students started looking confused and looking back at me with questions. Of course, when the groups started getting about the same measurements (180 degrees) for all the different triangles sizes, they couldn’t understand why.

By piquing their interest, I was then able to show them that two triangles together made a rectangle, which is 360 degrees and a triangle was half (no matter how different the triangles look), making 180 degrees. The students were surprised and delighted to make the connection, and after that day, I never “lectured” the sum of the angles of the triangle again, but let the students explore first to make the appropriate connections.

As a former math teacher, one of the most beneficial resources I had in my classroom was manipulatives. Oftentimes, understanding complex concepts require exploratory methods to make deeper connections. I used visual representations as much as possible, especially those resources that each student can hold in their hands. If I didn’t have the budget for the right objects, I spent time (and money) creating exactly what was needed to engage the students. Unfortunately, the time I spent making manipulatives took my energy away from the most important part of my job, my students.

You may not be surprised that exploring 3D objects using augmented reality makes me giddy. When our budgets and time are constantly fluctuating, this technology can bring new learning opportunities to our students without being restricted by our circumstances. One edtech company that has been paving the way for AR and VR for easily accessible immersive experiences is Merge. If you’ve heard of Merge in the past, you’ve probably discovered the Explorer app with immersive lesson plans and science simulations.

Beyond the Explorer app, Merge has also created an incredible tool to explore lifelike teaching aids using augmented reality in the Object Viewer app. The individual aids are grouped into collections to pair with classroom lesson plans. When I first began exploring collections in Object Viewer, I was overwhelmed by the number of teaching aids available in a single app. The collections range from historical artifacts to anatomy to mechanics and more. Not only can you view each of the 3D objects with the Merge Cube in view, but you can also place the objects on the ground in the World View mode.

As a graduation gift for my oldest daughter, we had the opportunity to go to Disney World in Orlando this summer. We had a blast using the collections in the Merge Object Viewer app throughout the parks and around the hotel. Not only did I get an opportunity to compare the digital world with the real world, but we learned new facts and made deeper connections to the content.

With the Object Viewer app, your students can construct just about ANYTHING!

Ready to get IMMERSIVE this school year? Dig into all the incredible teaching aids with the Merge Explorer and Object Viewer apps, and sign up for the free trial.

About Merge

Merge EDU engages students in science and STEM with 3D objects and simulations they can touch, hold and interact with.
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