The latest blog post in the New Play Space Series:

AR is making education more playful and intuitive. What are the most engaging examples currently out there? And what is it about this technology that’s so well suited to teaching?

What has been a big year for AR was marked by a key milestone at this year’s BAFTA Children’s Awards, with three of the four nominated projects in the Digital category being made possible through augmented reality technologies. This speaks to the growing potential of this technology to power new, creative ways of both entertaining and educating. 

Inspired by the celebration of this new medium – and winning the BAFTA with ‘A Brief History of Amazing Stunts by Astounding People’ – we’ve rounded up some of the most exciting, impactful and entertaining uses of AR in education out there.

AR-KID: Space (App Trailer) – An AR app that allows children to discover space and the history of its exploration in an innovative, fun and immersive way. Guided by Cosmo the robot, children look on in awe as a rocket appears in their bedroom, living room or wherever they happen to be playing, and they learn all about it before it blasts off into space. As the rocket arrives in orbit, the child encounters astronauts, the Space Station, a communications satellite and even set foot on the moon. All of this learning takes place in the child’s familiar surroundings and moves at a pace that is comfortable for them, fostering an environment that’s fertile for effective learning.

Botzees (Game Trailer) – Botzees takes the complex world of coding and uses the intuitive nature of AR to teach children ages 4 and up. Kids can program and code 6 different Botzees, then use the interactive AR puzzles which use visual cues to teach even more coding concepts. By combining AR with the physical toys and blocks that come with the game, kids can see the direct, physical effects of their coding in real time and understand the correlation between the digital and the physical.

Learning to Code with AR in Botzees

The Big Bang – Google Arts & Culture (App Trailer) – This BAFTA-nominated collaboration between Google Arts & Culture and CERN is an epic AR journey that immerses the user in the birth and evolution of the universe. Narrated by Tilda Swinton, Big Bang AR is an interactive story documenting the creation of stars, particles and the solar system, that unfolds in the user’s hands. By bringing such a distant subject closer to the user, Big Bang AR offers a more tangible and grounded understanding than they might get from other learning methods. 

Wonderscope (App Trailer ) – Within’s Wonderscope app offers huge learning potential in many areas. Not only does it encourage and improve reading through its voice recognition system, but it also builds confidence by elevating the child to one of the story’s central characters. The stories told in Wonderscope are also educational. Our latest project for Wonderscope, Clio’s Cosmic Quest, made with Within, in which kids blast off into space, teaches STEM-learning and our BAFTA-award winning A Brief History of Amazing Stunts by Astounding People teaches history. Ultimately, with Wonderscope, children are given a safe space to explore the stories’ themes at their own pace, with AR putting them in the driving seat.

Clio's Cosmic Quest on the Wonderscope App

The National Trust (Telegraph Article) – The National Trust has utilised the immediacy that AR can create by setting up augmented reality experiences in six National Trust sites. Visitors adopt AR headsets to see what their surroundings would look like in 30 years time if climate change continues at its current rate and if we don’t take action to reduce energy usage. By simulating conditions to show what climate change might feel like, The National Trust can tap into a palpable fear, where users can see and experience the devastating effects of global warming, in the hope that this drives behaviour change.

Krikey (App Trailer) – A location-based AR app where users can explore their neighbourhood to unlock AR ecosystems and discover new bird species. Krikey’s CTO, Dr Ketaki Shriram’s background in research focuses on the power of immersion to inspire empathy and create real-world behaviour change. By using immersive to learn about different ecosystems and appreciating birds in the context of their own real-world neighbourhoods, users are given a deeper appreciation of the natural world that infiltrates their real-world behaviour. Another conservation game, Gorillas!, is also built into the app, where users can go on treks in their neighbourhood to discover baby gorillas. 

Inside The Amazon: the Dying Forest (App Trailer) – This instalment of Time’s Immersive app features Jane Goodall guiding the user through a digital recreation of the Amazon Rainforest. They journey through the landscape, encountering people fighting illegal logging, loggers cutting paths into the jungle and frontiersman and women making an illicit living from the land. By distilling this complicated issue into something we can see, explore and interact with, AR not only makes this important aspect of climate change more easy to understand, it also makes the problem more urgent, dragging it under our noses with frightening clarity.

Inside the Amazon: The Dying Rainforest on the Time Immersive App

What might this list look like in the future? And which other ways will AR be used in order to make learning more seamless, tangible and playful?

We know that we are barely scratching the surface of what this groundbreaking technology can achieve, and PRELOADED eagerly awaits the peak of its powers as it revolutionises not only education but a multitude of different sectors. 

Header Image © AR-KID: Space

Phil Stuart

Phil is the founder and Creative Director of PRELOADED. A fanatical gamer and a champion for the power of games which do more than just entertain, he is responsible for the studio’s ‘Play with Purpose’ vision.