Augmented Reality in the Science Classroom

Check out this VIDEO of Augmented Reality in the Science Classroom!

I just finished week one of the new school year.  What an exciting four days!

Thanks to the ISTE Conference and a series of new connections, this summer was an inspiration.   Armed with too many new ideas to implement and a slew of new technologies, I jumped in, iPad first.  My new eighth-graders had never used iPads in the classroom, but based on their enthusiasm for technology, I knew anything I threw at them would be a huge hit!   I decided to go big and introduced them to augmented reality right from the start.  To say they were “impressed” is an understatement!

If you haven’t heard about the augmented reality app Aurasma, get ready because it will blow your mind.  Aurasma uses augmented reality to make 2 dimensional images come to life.  This simple-to-use app allows users to create “auras” or video overlays.  Pass a device like an iPad, smartphone, or android tablet over the still image you have “augmented” and video springs to life.

Click here for link

Click here for link

APPLICATION: Week 1 every year is spent teaching students about laboratory safety procedures and equipment.  I typically spend a full day talking about the exit procedures, fire extinguishers, calling for help, chemical safety and laboratory equipment/uses.  I repeat this 4 times throughout the day!  This year, I decided to put Aurasma to the test and augment the whole lesson.

Augmenting the process proved to be simple.  First, I created short videos about each piece of lab equipment, and dress code and emergency procedures.   Because the transfer process was easier, I stored the videos on my iPad.  To launch the videos, I initially tried to set the “trigger image” as the 3D piece of lab equipment but quickly realized that this didn’t work.  Instead, I printed and posted 2D pictures in front of the 3D objects.  Students could then scan the 2D more reliably.

A student uses the iPad to scan an image that brings an informational video to life.

A student uses the iPad to scan an image that brings an informational video to life.

On the day that I rolled out the new lesson,  the students were so excited.  I prepared them to bring ear buds knowing that each student would be on a different video and the noise would be hard for them to concentrate.  You could hear a pin drop as the students made their way around my room, taking notes on the equipment at their own pace.  The augmented photos and equipment remained out for the rest of the week to aid students who did not finish or wanted to hear the information a second time prior to the quiz.

Augmented trigger pictures were placed next to the physical equipment throughout the room.

Augmented trigger pictures were placed next to the physical equipment throughout the room.

PROCESS: While the process was smooth overall, here are a few valuable lessons I learned along the way.

  1. All of your students iPads must be following your Aurasma channel or they will not be able to pick up the Auras.
  2. Your “triggers” should be a picture or something 2-D that can not be altered. 3D lab equipment and people’s faces did not work reliably.  The 2D pictures that I printed and posted in front of the equipment were much more reliable.
  3. Limit video length.  Aurasma does not like videos over 4 minutes in length.  To make note taking easier on students, keep the videos concise.  Unless you change the setting, videos are typically played in a loop.
  4. Moving the iPad away from the target object will stop the video making note-taking near impossible.  Trick:  Once the target object triggers the video, double tap the screen to lock the video in place.  The iPad can be repositioned and/or set down while still playing the video .

RESULT: I was very pleased with the lesson and Aurasma.  Students picked up the content quickly and at their own pace.  Students were so enamored, many have inquired as to how they can make their own auras at home.

Based on the initial success and engagement, I plan on augmenting the periodic table as well as other things in the classroom this year!

12 responses to “Augmented Reality in the Science Classroom

  1. Jeanne Anderson (@JeanneAnderson1)

    What an awesome use of Aurasma! Thanks for the double tap trick. I wasn’t aware of that.

  2. I am so stealing this idea!!!!

  3. Hi Ashlie,
    A colleague came across your blog and thought I would be interested because I used Aurasma last spring to look at the Periodic Table. The students really enjoyed making the videos and sharing their work with each other. I believe they were more invested in researching and learning because they had some flexibility in how to present the information.
    We also found that you can make a video in iMovie which allows students to edit and then upload to Aurasma. The movie did not last more than 4 minutes so I don’t know if iMovie circumvents Aurasma’s time limit.

    I like the use of Aurasma for a safety tour. During the first days of school I spend a fair amount of time discussing safety protocols with students (also repeating 4 times in the day). This appears to be a more efficient and engaging way to teach students about safety.

    Best wishes for a great year.

    Brian Wagner

    • Hi Brian,

      I too was thinking about augmenting the periodic table this year. I would love to see how you set that up. I’m sure you would have different safety things to go over, or else I would forward you my videos. All I did was take short videos on each piece of equipment (maybe 30 secs) and explained how to use them/what their names were.

      Thanks for connecting,

      • Hi Ashlie,

        I would be happy to share what I did with the PT, although it was my first go-round with Aurasma so I’m likely to modify the assignment some based on how it went. When are you teaching the PT? I will be starting my chemistry unit later in the spring but if you are teaching it earlier, I’ll make some changes and send it over.

      • smithsciencegms

        I introduced my atom model project, which included the second year of Glogs, but also included an assignment to Augment the periodic table. We’ll see how it works. I hope to get it done by Dec. 20.

  4. I just discovered AR and I am amazed! How can I purchased these element blocks if the funding period is over? I also loved the lab lesson.

    • Hi! The element blocks are pretty amazing. I am planning on writing a blog post of how I used them in my classroom this past month in fact! I think if you go to, you can find out how to contact someone or send a tweet to @daqri.
      Hope this helped!

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