When Google Glass asked prospective users to dream back in February about what they would do with Glass if they had one of the innovative, ground-breaking eyewear-mounted computers, Andrew Vanden Heuvel, a high school teacher, quickly composed his reply, which he sent off to Google's #ifihadglass Web page.
"ifIhadglass … It would transform the way I would teach science, making every moment a teachable moment," wrote Vanden Heuvel in his entry.
That intriguing description was selected as one of some 8,000 chosen submissions in the contest, which allowed Vanden Heuvel to purchase one of the Glass devices for $1,500 and use it as an early "Explorer" user of the new technology.
Google was so taken by his idea that company representatives called him on the phone, told him his entry had been selected as a winner and shared a surprise out of the blue. As part of the deal, Google offered him an all-expenses-paid trip with his newly purchased Glass device to Geneva, Switzerland, where he could capture his first lesson to his students from the site of the 16.7-mile-long Large Hadron Collider. The collider is the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator used for scientific research, according to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which began operating it in 2008.
After notifying him of the collider trip, a Google team and accompanying film crew delivered his Glass device to him at his home in Grand Haven, Mich.
"They asked me, 'How would you like to go teach a live physics lesson from inside the Large Hadron Collider?'" said Vanden Heuvel. The trip was made in April, with Google paying his way. The Google film crew went along, capturing Vanden Heuvel's exploration of the collider, which included riding a special bicycle inside the 16.7-mile-long collider track.
Upon arriving at the collider, he used Glass to communicate wirelessly via the Internet with a high school class that his brother, Ryan, teaches at South Christina High School in Grand Rapids, Mich.
"OK Glass, hang out with Ryan's class," Vanden Heuvel told Glass, as it connected him with the 15 students in the class using videoconferencing provided by Google+ Hangouts. "Hello everybody. Welcome to CERN. We're here," he told the class after the connection was made.
Then Vanden Heuvel took a tour of the collider with Glass so he could show the class in Michigan everything he was seeing at that moment. During the tour, Vanden Heuvel pedaled the bicycle along a narrow pathway where the collider is located so he could move to different parts of the facility. "Fewer people have ridden a bike here than have climbed Mount Everest," he told the class during this tour.
The experience was an amazing one that left him knowing that Glass could be a fabulous tool for teaching students about science from anywhere, he said.