Elementary school receives unique technology opportunity

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.The Austintown Elementary students used phones from Google to look at different objects in 3D, such as a grasshopper and a tornado, through Google's Expeditions app. The app can be used by teachers on any device with a dual lens camera. Pictured, aide Sam Mehle looks at an object with students Jackson and Kalen.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Google brought their new app for augmented reality to Austintown Elementary School. The app allowed the students to scan images and look at a model of them. Pictured, first grade student Mason Dunlap looked at a model of a volcano.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Technology teacher Renee Houser requested to be a part of Google's Pioneer Program for their Expeditions AR app. Google has given the school the app to use before it is made public. The app can be used as a tool for teaching and the school will give feedback on the app.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Approximately 400 students got the chance to use the Google Expeditions during the day on April 19. The rest of the students used the app later in the week. Technology Teacher Renee Houser noted that learners of all types enjoyed the experience.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Google's Expedition AR app is currently only being used in the education sector in schools throughout the nation as Google is still developing and adjusting the app. Now that Austintown Elementary has access to the app, teachers at the school can use it as an educational tool in the classroom. Pictured, Bria and Jayce enjoyed using the app.

By ZACK SHIVELY

zshively@vindy.com

Austintown Elementary School students got the chance to use a new augmented reality app from Google on April 19.

Technology instructor Renee Houser signed the school up last year to be a part of Google’s Pioneer Program, Google Expeditions. Google reached out to the school, planned a trip and brought materials for the program.

“We wanted to bring this in because kids use tech so much and we have to stay up-to-date to keep interest,” said Houser, who also said the app allows the students to see and experience lessons in a different way while being “virtually free.”

Google Expeditions currently only exists as a virtual reality app, but the augmented reality functions are being tested in the education sector in schools throughout the nation. Google presented Austintown with the app and the school will give feedback on how the app performs. Houser expressed excitement to be involved in the shaping of a national app.

The teachers had a small training period in the early morning to use the technology. The students came down to the gymnasium in two classes at a time. The students used phones from Google for the demonstration to scan a code using the app. The app then created an object.

For example, the teacher set up a volcano on the code, so the students saw a 3-dimensional display of a volcano on their phone when they scanned it. The students could move backward to expand the size of the display.

Houser said the students in each of the classes were excited to use the technology. She said she saw so many different types of learners and they were all immersed in the experience of the augmented reality lesson.

Though Google is still developing the app, the Austintown Elementary teachers can use the app at any time in their classroom as long as they have a device with a dual lens camera. Houser said the technology would be helpful lessons ranging any from the human skeleton to toranadoes, as the teacher could use the app to show large scale models of each.

Houser and a representative from Google helped the students in the gymnasium. Physical education teachers Sophia Gault and Ashley Lydie, technology coaches Stephen DiBacco and Stephanie Toporcer and teachers Stacy Banko and Sherri McKeown also helped out.

Approximately 400 students got the chance to use the codes throughout the day. The other students in the school had lessons done in the technology room later in the week.

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