A post in iLearnTechnology.com pointed me to GE Smart Grid Augmented Reality where after the time it took to print a sheet of paper and launch my web cam, I sat slack-jawed staring at the screen. If you haven’t seen it already – go! Follow the link. I’ll wait. Okay, if you didn’t want to go and would rather I try to not-possibly-do-it-justice, basically you hold a paper in front of your webcam and on screen you see yourself holding said paper and all of a sudden a 3-D image of land and wind turbines or solar panels (depending on which of the two links you use) unfolds out of the icon on your paper. And as you tilt your paper different angles, you see the hologram twist and rotate so that you can look around in a good 180 degrees. It’s amazing.
I was pretty sure my tech club kids (26 fourth and fifth graders) would be pretty impressed as well. What I didn’t expect was how far they’d take this. I had more than this one site planned for our meeting and in hindsight I wish I’d thrown the rest of my schedule out of the window, because we really could have spent the entire hour on this site. And it wasn’t about wind turbines and solar energy. After the few minutes of watching the image unfold and fold over and over, we started brainstorming other ways of using this technology in education. My kids came up with the following, which they insisted I email GE and tell them they should do for us – cheeky kids!
- show land formations
- watch the water cycle
- see different parts of the body working
- wind erosion
Honestly they had more and I can’t remember them all. Please don’t tell them! But what was even more impressive than the ideas they were coming up with was the science experiment they turned the whole site into. “Mrs. Adam! Does it have to be printed? Can we just DRAW that symbol?” “Can it be another color?” “Can it be larger or smaller?” “Can it be a mirror image?” We learned that you can draw the symbol, at least if you trace it and color it with black crayon – but you don’t have to have it very smooth. And red crayon doesn’t work at all. And a mirror image works but you have to hold it sideways because the sun needs to be on the upper right when looking into the webcam or else it shows it sideways. We didn’t try other sizes but most of the kids decided it would probably work because it worked no matter how far or how close the picture was to the camera so it was seeing it bigger or smaller anyway. And we figured it wouldn’t work multicolored either because it didn’t work with red. But there were so many other ideas we didn’t try out because I really did have more planned for them. I asked them to brainstorm more classroom connections and come up with more experiments to try and we would return to the site after spring break. I was absolutely tickled with how far they took what was supposed to be a really quick “look how cool!”
Since that day, I was listening to Buzz Out Loud Episode 927, and they mentioned a NY Times article about 3-D baseball cards! It’s the same technology! For baseball cards! You can watch your favorite player actually PLAY! Or… well… a cartoonish version of him. But still. They have a video there. Go look! I’ll wait. Isn’t it awesome?! So I didn’t get a chance to tell my kids about this site. The cards come out Monday and since it’s my spring break, I think I’ll go to the local hobby shops and see if I can find any. If they’re not too expensive, I may buy enough for my students. I’m betting I only get a few to show. But I’m so excited!
So thanks, Kelly, for featuring this site!