This project will use augmented reality to help with early childhood education, such as year 1's and 2's in primary schools. My idea is to make a game based off the blocks used to help teach kids about place value in numbers (ones, tens and most likely hundreds). This game would make a more enjoyable and interactive way to learn about math using in the real world and on a mobile device. By using the blocks with target images on them, once stacked it should be recognised as different images so the application will recognise that and have a different 3D model for each number.
CubAR is a project which numbers with objects to help with early childhood education. The idea is to give the user the feeling of playing with blocks while also teaching them the very basics of small numbers, which then also teaches them to add small numbers in a fun and interactive way. I have worked individually to try and create an application for mobile devices but the road has been extremely bumpy for me and I fear that I haven't created a working game as such, instead most of this project is still speculative but I do have something to show.
My workplace uses programs to assist the tutors to teach their students, but I've noticed that the interactivity is very limited due to the old software on the computers. So I want to bring some interesting new technology that gets the younger students to use blocks and feel for the numbers that appear on the screen as they use real world objects. I feel that young students should interact with the real world as well as the digital world to truly understand and expose themselves to technology.
Throughout the semester my idea has changed quite a bit and in the end I don't have the finished outcome I wanted but it has been an incredible learning experience. I used Unity for the first time to build the application, luckily I do have some experience with other programs such as Unreal Engine to understand Unity pretty quickly. Augmented Reality is not easy to work with especially if you have never used it before which is really risky. My process has been experimental over the semester and it took weeks to even get the AR to actually work.
Initially my idea was to use very tiny blocks which were not much bigger than the blocks used for Place Value in Education today however it was impossible to get Vuforia to recognise anything that small. So I had to scale everything up which made a lot of complications, bigger cubes meant less space for blocks in the camera view.
When building the application on the mobile device I used my phone to test out the markers and one thing I didn't realise was how uncomfortable I was using my phone for the exhibition so I used a Samsung Galaxy tablet instead which also had a stand so people don't have to hold the device in their hand which promoted the interactivity of the project. My phone seemed to work better with the AR so I'm not sure about the tablet, probably because the tablet is quite old and it's camera isn't as good quality as my phone.
Augmented Reality can be very unreliable and I can't stress how scared I am that the AR might not work in the space I've chosen for the exhibition, lighting seemed to be the most important thing and I didn't find that out for weeks. The reflection on the paper seemed to be the problem as the ink was slightly reflective if a light source was directly on it so using natural light that isn't direct sunlight will be best.
The critique session a few weeks ago really helped with my view on my project, seeing what everyone thought about my project initially and then expanding on what they expected to see. This made it all the more frustrating I couldn't meet my goal of having the blocks connect to each other.
Next time I want to have talked to more people during/after these sessions to get their help and learn more about their skills that could help me. This was very important because I was working individually.
As a tutor who works with years one up to eleven, I have experience education for over a year now and I've worked with a lot of five and six year olds and a lot of them don't know how to use simple math with small numbers, even below ten. CubAR uses the virtual world as an extension to the physical world where children can play with blocks of different sizes and not only learn about numbers, but get a feel for them.
Augmented Reality (AR) is the core of this project. By using AR and the existing use of building blocks, we can properly unify the concept of adding numbers while also understanding shape, size, space, depth, width and height and developing hand-eye coordination ("Play idea: Blocks" 2015). This project will also help children experience using mobile devices which seems to be needed in the modern day and it will be worthwhile to expose young children to this kind of technology to prepare them and make it easier for them to use it as part of their everyday lives.
We are gradually entering an age where technology is being used to augment the real world to help with our educational needs. An example of this happening is in Japan with a game called ParaParaParadise, "a game popular in Japan that uses hand and eye sensors, are just on the horizon for education." (Borja, 2006, p 1). By using technology we can use our basic human functions such as hand-eye coordination to help with our mental learning. When learning, the best way to learn is to do things yourself rather than listening to someone talk about it, that is why we learn the most when teaching others or actually doing things in the real world.
The main interactive process that is prominent in the scope of the project is trial and error. For all the users the application will require trial and error to learn about the basic numbers and it's a great way to learn according to Moran (2005). I want users to be able to feel like they have to get it right and it doesn't matter too much if they fail the first time. This way it will also help them to learn those combinations of numbers because they have learnt it through failing the first time.
By using puzzle elements it can increase the amount of time spent using the application which will tie into the learning because it will increase the attention span of the younger children when using the application.
Moran, S. (2005) To really learn, fail - then fail again! Retrieved October 30, 2016, from https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/really-learn-fail-%E2%80%94-then-fail-again
Boot, W.R., Kramer, A.F., Simons, D.J., Fabiani, M., and Gratton, G. (2008) The effects of videogame playing on attention, memory, and executive control. Actapsychologica, 129(3), 387-98.
Carr, A. (2013, July 24). Daqri's 4D Cubes Use Augmented Reality To Teach Kids The Periodic Table Of Elements. Retrieved August 03, 2016, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3014771/tech-forecast/daqris-4d-cubes-use-augmented-reality-to-teach-kids-the-periodic-table-of-elem
Blocks - Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Retrieved September 5, 2016, from http://www.education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Early-Childhood/Play-ideas/Blocks.pdf
Borja, R. (2006) Dance Video Games Hit the Floor in Schools. Education Week 25 (22), 1.