Google Glass Used by Teacher to Bring Math, Science to Students

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-08-20 Print this article Print

Google Glass has been a topic of conversation among techies since news of it first arrived in 2012. The first Google Glass units began shipping in April 2013 to developers who signed up at the June 2012 Google I/O conference to buy an early set for $1,500 for testing and development, where it was the hit of the conference. Each Google Glass device includes adjustable nose pads and a high-resolution display that Google said is the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from 8 feet away. The glasses also feature a built-in camera that takes 5-megapixel photos and video at 720p. Audio is delivered to wearers through their bones, using bone-conduction transducers.

Since 2009, Vanden Heuvel has been an independent online high school teacher who works out of his home office, teaching online classes at the Michigan Virtual School under contract, he said. He previously had taught physics and astronomy in a traditional high school for three years, but he wanted to find new and better ways to engage his students.

"I'm a non-traditional guy," he said. "I'm more about trying to engage the whole child," rather than just working to bump up district test scores.

As part of that work, Vanden Heuvel started a Website, AGL Initiatives, where he develops online learning projects in science, math and technology.

Soon after his first Glass experiences, Vanden Heuvel created a video series he calls STEMbite, which he describes as "bite-size lessons in science and math from everyday life—all captured from a unique first-person point of view through Google Glass." The STEMbite lessons are posted on YouTube and include some 60 videos so far, including lessons on the physics of children's toys, the chemistry found in kitchens and the biology people can find in their own backyards.

He even held his first live STEMbite lesson this past spring for students, so that they could share his science lesson in real time using Glass.

"It's me doing what I think is fun," he said of the STEMbite lessons. "I do experiments and show students the math and science that surrounds them in everyday life, such as one day when I was eating lunch with my family and we were considering the organic molecules that we were actually consuming during the meal."

In the future, Vanden Heuvel said he hopes to continue to expand his exploration of amazing places like the collider facility so that he can share additional unique venues with his virtual students. "I'm really excited about growing STEMbite by doing more live broadcasts like I did in Switzerland," he said. "To me, what's impactful about STEMbite and Google Glass is that it's kind of changing the nation and the conversation about what learning looks like, and that learning can take place anywhere and at any age, even on YouTube. It's the most exciting time in the history of the world to be a student. The rate of discovery has never been what it is today, and the opportunities that students have to create and share their ideas with the world are astounding."

Earlier in August, another early Glass user unveiled the first video game that he built for Glass, which uses head motions to play the game. Like Vanden Heuvel, mobile games designer Sean McCracken also became one of the first Glass Explorers when his gaming idea was selected by Google as part of the #ifihadglass competition.


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