When I was in 7th grade, most of the sciences and physics were taught to me in the form of formulas on a blackboard and a textbook that passed through the hands of hundreds of students before me. And if I was especially lucky, I got the pleasure of watching a movie in class vaguely related to the topic, like Armageddon.
Peer has decided to change all that by using mixed-reality technology to teach kids about the more abstract ideas, like force and acceleration in physics. Peer uses a combination of Google Cardboard VR headsets, augmented reality markers, actual cardboard, foam, and fans to show kids the versatility of wind power and aerodynamics in a fun and novel way. The team at Peer has stated that the setup could be used to demonstrate force, gravity, and sound along with molecular biology compared to the old-school way most people were taught.
Peer was created with 3 goals in mind:
- Provide visualizations in the classroom to help students grasp the concept of terms such as aerodynamics.
- To enhance the process of feedback by having theories immediately testable due to the ease of quickly trying a new prototype.
- To bring students together in an interactive learning environment instead of the traditional repetition and formulaic approach to learning.
Peer is powered by internet-connected sensors which act as a bridge between the physical world and the virtual. In the windmill example, these sensors allowed kids to “see” exactly how much power was being generated from their foam windmills on their VR headset. At a later point in the video, all of the kids’ windmills are connected together to power a virtual city with an overlay to demonstrate how one windmill design is more efficient than the others. Peer is still in an experimental phase but I expect it to really get kids involved with STEM learning.