Students and teachers at Edison Intermediate School participated in a recent beta test of a Google application that uses augmented reality technology to explore the inner workings of plant cells, the functions and framework of the human skeletal system, and other educational subjects.

Edison Media Specialist Andrew Cusumano arranged for a Google representative to visit the school on April 9 to train a few teachers on the use of the app being piloted at schools across the United States.  The teachers in turn led students through brief lessons during which students used smart devices mounted on holders with handles to view computer-generated 3-D images  — the human skeleton, for example — in real time.

“I’m not sure what bone that is,” one student said to another as the two closely examined the virtual skeleton.

Sign Up for E-News

“We worked with science classes and viewed a couple of different topics,” said Cusumano. “One of the topic was cells. In this augmented reality session, students were able to see the different parts of the cell and also visit the inside of a cell as well. The different parts and processes of how a cell works were all on display.”

Augmented reality technology differs from that of virtual reality in that the 3-D images are superimposed over the user’s actual surroundings. With VR, users don goggles to be transported into real or imagined environments elsewhere.

“It was a really cool experience,” Cusumano said about the beta test. “It was interesting to see students walking around these computer generated objects that appeared on their device screen. On the screen, the objects looked so real. It was weird, but very intriguing to look at something that isn’t really there.”