OCEAN CITY — Staring into cellphone screens, students in Randy Kohr’s technology class at Ocean City Primary School gasped in unison when a T-Rex appeared in front of them.
The dinosaur looked as though it was right in the classroom, thanks to Google’s new Augmented Reality, or AR, program.
Students in Ocean City Primary School were among the first in the nation to test out the new Google technology. Augmented reality is the same concept used in the popular smart phone application Pokemon Go.
The students used a synchronized smart phone application in which a 3-D image appears on the screen when the phone’s camera is pointed at a QR code. The image is selected by the teacher. Students are able to walk around the image and inspect it, even go inside it.
Google began rolling out its Expeditions AR to schools in fall 2017 as part of the Expeditions Pioneer Program. Kohr said that when he learned about the program, he immediately applied for Ocean City to be a part of it.
“I said, ‘Oh, what a great opportunity,’” he said.
Kohr is interested in bringing similar technology to Ocean City schools. He said he has been working with Primary School Principal Cathleen Smith and Superintendent Kathy Taylor to make that happen.
“This seems reasonable, to the point a first-grader could navigate it,” he said.
The program is applicable to a variety of lessons, Kohr explained. Using AR, students can examine parts of the human body, gaze into the center of a hurricane or see a volcano erupt without having to leave their desks.
“It’s an accompaniment to any lesson you want,” he said.
Jason Mero, an Expeditions Associate for Vaco at Google, was at the Primary School on Thursday to help the staff use the technology. Mero said he has been at 20 schools so far in the greater Philadelphia region. The app isn’t available to the public yet, but it could be rolled out next year.
“It kind of changes education,” Mero said.