SAN GABRIEL, CA – Wielding smart phones on selfie sticks, McKinley Elementary students jumped and screamed in delight on May 24 as they tracked 3D tornadoes and dinosaurs that appeared on-screen and in the classroom as part of a Google Expeditions Augmented Reality Pioneer Program.

The program – an unreleased feature of the Google Expeditions app – uses Google’s AR technology to map the classroom and place 3D objects, which the students can walk around, examine closely to view details and step back for a fuller picture.

“Each year, we’re looking to refine and enhance our students’ educational experience as new technology becomes available,” McKinley Assistant Principal Tuoi Nguyen said. “The augmented reality experience can help our students visualize their lessons and learn valuable collaboration skills.”

Google Expeditions uses technology that maps the physical room and projects 3D models throughout. Positional tracking allows students to walk around the objects or back away for a full view.

Teachers, trained on the program by Google, built their expeditions from 100 available grade-appropriate scenarios, including dinosaurs, insect pollination, forces of nature and phases of the moon.

In all, nearly 500 kindergarten- through fifth-grade McKinley students experienced the 30-minute augmented reality lesson.

“It was cool because we got to see the earth, and the animals, and it was all right there around and in front of us,” fourth-grader Jacqueline Nguyen said. “I would love to see it all again if I could.”

McKinley Elementary plans to enhance its science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program – which offers students weekly lessons in the STEM lab that include coding, robotics and 3D printing – by integrating the Google Expeditions AR program.

Now that the Expeditions AR feature is released for public use, McKinley students and staff will be able to access it using the school’s iPads and Google Classroom apps. Principal Jim Symonds said the school hopes to begin integrating augmented reality into its instruction in 2018-19.

“We are committed to ensuring our students have the knowledge and tools to help them excel academically and professionally,” SGUSD Superintendent Dr. John Pappalardo said. “We are excited to equip our students with the latest technology that will enhance their educational experience and look forward to expanding these opportunities across the District.”


053118_SANGAB_MCKINLEY_GOOGLE1: McKinley Elementary students watch an earthquake simulation using Google Expeditions AR, an app that uses augmented reality to bring education to life.

053118_SANGAB_MCKINLEY_GOOGLE2: McKinley Elementary students explore augmented reality during the Google Expeditions AR Pioneer Program. McKinley, which offers weekly STEM instruction, plans to bring augmented reality into the classroom in 2018-19.