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New augmented reality app demonstrated at Founders Elementary

DeKALB – Within an elementary school classroom, students are bound to find chairs, desks and various school supplies. So it might come as a surprise when they see a giant mountain range or celestial body in the middle of the room.

A new smartphone-based, augmented reality program designed to project different scientific phenomena was tested Monday at Founders Elementary School, to the surprise and delight of students.

Leo Robinson, a first-grader at Founders, said he really liked the program.

“It was awesome,” Leo said. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Denise Flemming, an instructional coach for DeKalb School District 428, said Google has just started doing pilot programs for the service in the fall, and the technology is not even available to the public yet.

Demonstrations took place all day except for a one-hour interval at noon to recharge the equipment. Teachers came in early for training, and a Google representative was on hand to address any problems.

Classes were given 30 minutes to use the service using different models such as landforms, forces of nature, fish, dinosaurs, the ocean floor and phases of the moon.

Students worked in pairs and were given a smartphone attached to a selfie stick to look for the virtual objects in the classroom.

“The teacher chose the topic of the AR program based on what they are studying in class,” Flemming said. “In fourth grade, they are doing volcanoes, so it puts a volcano right in their own environment.”

Should the district buy the augmented reality system, it will be shared between each of the district’s schools.

District 428 currently uses a virtual reality program that was acquired for about $8,600 through donations from each school and grants from the DeKalb Education Foundation and DeKalb County Community Foundation.

Flemming said the district will look at these same funding sources for the augmented reality program.

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