# Augmented Reality, Used!

When I first discovered Augmented Reality, my mind was blown.  And yet, I couldn’t think of a good way to incorporate it into any of my 3 classes that couldn’t already be done with other materials.

The other week, however, I think I successfully used the Augment app for the iPad, and I’d like to show what I did.

First off, I saw this awesome video:

I asked my students to watch it for HW.  Of course I had 2 out of 13 watch it. *smacks forehead*

So I showed them all the way up until the guy pulls the feather off the balanced sticks and I ask “okay, so what happens?”

I then have them pull out the iPads and look at a model I created (didn’t take too long, but then again, I’ve been playing with Blender a lot) so they could visualize all of the sticks being balanced with the feather at the end.  If you have an iOS or Android device with a camera, download the Augment app and scan this QR code through the app:

If you don’t have an iPad and your browser, OS, & graphics card all support WebGL (My broswer, OS, & graphics card all supported WebGL, just not together (doh!).  So I had to reboot into Windows 7.  Yay for dual boot.) then click the link below (I’ve been trying to make it interactive?).

### Balancing Sticks — Realistic (click to view in 3D)

My students examined the model, went “ooh” and “ahh” as they moved their iPads around to see all the sides of it, and proceeded to look profoundly confused.  At that point, I hinted at things such as “center of mass” and “let’s draw force diagrams on these spots”, and I gave them the following, nearly identical 3D structure, except with red balls at points that I thought they should examine in more detail.  Yes, there are a lot of red balls.  Here’s the QR code and 3D image:

### Balancing Sticks — Marked (click to view in 3D)

After this, my students drew force diagrams and were able to predict where each of the remaining sticks fell very accurately.  Reflecting on it, I suppose you don’t need a force diagram to figure that out, but the AR sure helped them visualize it, and it was good practice for them sketching force diagrams.

Furthermore, I had initially thought that this was a break from what we had been working on–momentum–but after some reflection, I realized that “Center of Mass” connected the two concepts, and we hadn’t yet talked about Center of Mass in our class!

This lesson turned out to be “eh”, but only because I didn’t spend enough time on what I wanted to be their “end result”.  That and I’m not entirely sure how to teach about center of mass when all we’ve talked about in class are point masses.  On day I’ll feel sufficient as a physics teacher.

I think the AR definitely augmented the lesson (sorry for the pun), but as you noticed, it wasn’t central to the lesson, nor should it have been.  If I required students to create their own, or somehow interact with the AR I created, the students would have missed the point of the lesson.  Instead, I was glad that I stumbled upon this video and then only after much of the lesson was thought out did I realize “hey, I could totally use AR here!”

I’m still going to be on the look-out for better ways to use AR, and hope, one day, to involve students in the creation of the 3D models!

I’d like to thank Jim Pai and Brian Kolins for their fellow nerdy enthusiasm over discovering Augmented Reality.

1. I used this Augmented Reality app to allow students to view these models in “augmented 3D”.

2. I used Blender to create the models, which I then exported to wavefront (.obj) to be able to import into the Augment website in #1. (Actually, I now forget whether I used COLLADE (.dae) or wavefront (.obj) but either should do the trick.)

3. I used Sketchfab to import the 3D model and show it on the blog.  Unfortunately, it seems that wordpress.com does not allow “iframes” which is what is required for it to look like this (simply embedded in the post, rather than just a link).

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