Sterrett McCauley, a first-grade student at Colorado Elementary School in Holton, used an iPad with an “augmented reality” (AR) app to answer a question about whether country singer Martina McBride is a Kansas native (answer: McBride was born and raised in Barber County). The school is displaying a bulletin board this week that uses AR technology to answer ques¬tions about Kansas people, places and things in honor of Kansas Day, which is Thursday.

First-grade students using "augmented reality" to teach others about Kansas

Every Kansas Day, Jan. 29, first-grade students at Colorado Elementary School in Holton put together a report on something about Kansas that they enjoy.

But this year, they’ve put together a series of reports to share with their fellow students and their teachers that utilizes a new technology called “augmented reality,” or AR, to further explain what they like about their home state.

Currently on the bulletin board outside the Colorado school office is a series of questions, under the heading of “You ‘Mustache’ Us a Kansas Day Question.” These questions range from general questions about the state flag, bird or song, to questions about famous people from Kansas such as Amelia Earhart, Bob Dole, Barry Sanders and Martina McBride.

With an AR app installed on their smartphones or iPads, students, teachers and school visitors can focus on a “trigger image” connected to each question that leads to a video presentation involving first-graders that answers the question. In this case, as first grade teacher Susan Baum said, the AR app is known as Aurasma, and students have picked up on the relatively new technology quickly.

But for the students themselves, the main purpose of putting the bulletin board together is, as Austin Zeller put it, “so people can come to our school and learn about Kansas.”

Baum said the AR project is part of her goal for this school year to incorporate more new technologies in her classroom. She and the other first grade teachers at Colorado — Abbey Althof, Robin Fernkopf, Michelle Keim and Janelle Noel —are working to incorporate “21st Century learning” in their classrooms, and technology is an integral part of that.

“We have always incorporated multiple resources to implement a Kansas Day unit, but this year we wanted to change things up,” Baum said. “Projects such as this one allow students to use critical thinking skills, as well as collaborate with each other, and be creative.”

Holton High School media specialist Annie Brock was asked for ideas, and it was Brock who suggested the Aurasma app, Baum said. Brock then came to Colorado to show students how to use AR technology.

“Needless to say, it was a huge success,” Baum said of the students’ introduction to Aurasma. “The students loved it.”

The first step for students in creating the bulletin board involved coming up with a question about “someone that we wanted to do a report on,” said first-grader Kolbie Noel. Baum added the question could have been about any aspect of Kansas, such as someone associated with the state, Kansas laws or symbols, state schools or pieces of Kansas history.

Students then researched their questions, whether on the internet or through school history books, Baum said. Then, they had to find a picture that would serve as a “trigger image” that would turn their iPads into an interactive bulletin board, and students planned and made videos that would correspond with each trigger image.

Videos and trigger images were then linked together through an Aurasma account created by the class. Baum said a Bluetooth speaker was added to the display because with the videos, “we found that it was a little hard to hear.”

Other teachers at Colorado were asked to bring their students to the bulletin board, then tell their students, “you mustache (must ask) us a Kansas Day question,” before they use their iPads and Aurasma to zoom in on each trigger image and get the answer to the question. The “mustache” aspect of the bulletin board, Baum said, was “just for fun.”

“The teacher is the facilitator and the students are leading each other,” Baum said of the use of AR technology. 

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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