What is Science Augmented?

Science Augmented is an application that enables high school teachers to create engaging, collaborative and guided learning experiences using AR.

Why are we building this?

Science teachers want to create engaging activities to help their students learn. Increasingly, teachers have to compete for their students’ attention. New technologies such as smartwatches, smartphones, VR/AR/MR devices, and gaming consoles seamlessly anchor the student’s attention in a way that is not reflected in classroom practice. Science teachers fight a losing battle when they rely on outdated technology to capture the attention of today’s students.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS, 2013) require teacher to move away from describing science with a glossary of words and cookbook, to class activities that model the nature of science. Teachers would love to find new in-class activities to keep the students engaged throughout the learning process. Hence, Science Augmented will meet this real-world need to create a new generation of classroom experiences.

Science classes like Biology and Chemistry are inherently 3 dimensional subjects. Current class materials like PowerPoint slides and word processing are insufficient for teachers to demonstrate and hard for students to understand.

How are we building this?

We started tackling this problem with identifying our user personas, high school teacher Mr.Hope, and high school girl Faith. Through empathy mapping exercise, we understood the real needs from our users. Rapid wireframing and prototyping on papers help us create intuitive experience.

The application was developed using Unity. We used the Unity Networking service to connect the Standalone build with mobile devices. Unity’s native Vuforia integration was used for the AR rendering. The design of the application was created using Adobe Creative suite and Sketch. This was imported into Unity and rendered using Unity UI and Text Mesh Pro. We obtained some of our molecular models from the RCSB Protein Data Bank and Google’s Sketchup.

What are our features?

In the collaborative AR classroom, all perspectives are encouraged, and students are able to collaborate, and prototype concepts in class, under the guidance of the teacher. Our platform is a combination of informational aspect, or a generic lab exercise that shows the change in color of the chemicals. We deliver specific information with the adequate level of engagement.

The value we are looking to create:

Visualizing orientation of molecules and bonds Molecular reactions and bonds are not just straight lines and summations on paper, in reality the orientation of the molecules in 3D and location of the bonds play an important role in the reaction. Science Augmented helps teachers deliver this value, while supplementing with interactive learning activities.

A Novel, engaging learning environment Each student with our AR application on their mobile phones, log in to the classroom, and here the teacher assigns molecules to students, creating collaboration in students, while guiding them through the process. This creates immersion in the classroom by shifting the focus in the lesson from the ‘what happens to molecules?’ to ‘What should we do with the molecules?’

A flexible and scalable learning platform This will meet the need for teachers to move away from describing science with a glossary of words, with resources . This would replace a whole ‘book shelf’ of with a software update. A library of textual information is just another update away. Vuforia platform 98% of android, and 100% iOS devices.

Why Science Augmented?

Comparing with other AR/VR apps in the market, we are a departure from informational content with cool graphics. We are cool graphics and something similar to ‘LEGO’ blocks for chemistry, where students collaborate, and look to bind molecules in the right orientations and binding sites to complete the reaction.

The Impact

Science Augmented is a multidimensional resource. It allow teachers creating their our classroom, add their students, and leverage many collaborative in-class activities that specifically use the affordances of AR. We believe our application will increase engagement between teachers and students by bringing an immersive guided learning experience to current K-12 education.

What have we learned?

We’re very proud of our product and learned a lot throughout the Hackathon. We have refreshed our memory of high school chemistry and biology, applied the analytical thinking we further developed in college and working with perfect strangers to have a lot of fun. & AR is super COOL.

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