It is widely accepted that getting children interested in STEM subjects from an early age should be encouraged as it provides a gateway for future interest in later years, and CleverBooks, is doing this by integrating modern technology into the teaching of these subjects, writes Ken Mitchell

Chem

It is widely accepted that getting children interested in STEM subjects from an early age should be encouraged as it provides a gateway for future interest in later years.

An Irish startup, CleverBooks, is doing this by integrating modern technology into the teaching of these subjects. Education research tells us that to get the best results out of children, multiple systems of learning need to be used; in effect, a good teacher should have an arsenal of systems and methodologies to elicit the best results from students.

Help support students’ individual learning styles


CleverBooks has developed a new weapon for this arsenal that will help support students’ individual learning styles.

CleverBooks successfully integrates augmented reality (AR) into STEM learning. If you are wondering what AR is, you might be familiar with its most popular iteration – ‘Pokémon Go’.

In it, as you look at your surroundings via your tablet or phone camera, cartoon characters appear on the screen as if they were in front of you.

In more technical terms, AR is an interactive experience of a real-world environment whereby the objects that reside in the real world are ‘augmented’ by computer-generated perceptual information across one or multiple sensory modalities (mainly visual and auditory).

The primary value of AR is that it brings components from the digital world into a person’s perception of the real world, and does so through the integration of immersive sensations that are perceived as natural parts of an environment.

CleverBooks products can be used to supplement the existing primary school curriculum and help educators to individualise class lessons according to children’s capabilities and engage them in learning more independently using the key modalities: seeing, hearing and doing.

The company offers a range of AR based education technology products for teaching and learning which are based on global curriculum guidelines.

Its focus is on supplying products that aim to develop and enhance interest and curiosity levels in STEM, create a base for developing 21st century skills and focusing on personalised learning through kinetic, audial and visual educational approaches. A big ambition, undoubtedly, but one the firm is determined to ensure becomes a reality.

Practicalities of the technology


The practicalities of the technology include a physical product such as a workbook, map or flashcard and a smartphone mobile app. To get going, you simply launch the app and face the phone camera to the physical product.

Aimed at primary school children from six to 11 years old, the books are all age appropriate and offer a variety of themes.

For example, the geometry program utilises the app to expand on a workbook picture of a shape and it pops up as a 3D object on the screen along with audible commentary using a child’s voice.

In addition, the student is able to interact with the shape, view it from all angles, and see how it interacts with other shapes.

This helps students study abstract concepts such as geometric and three-dimensional shapes, which are difficult to understand through a flat image in a textbook, thus greatly improving spatial visualisation.

Embarrassment-free technology will dispel fears


The company is aware that new technology can often be more intimidating to teachers than students but is confident the simple easy-to-use and embarrassment-free technology will dispel those fears.

Their aim is not to replace traditional teaching methods but to supplement them by bringing school subjects ‘to life’ by visualising them in 3D.

Company founder Darya Yegorina wants to change the way in which educational content is delivered and aims to personalise it through seeing, doing and using your imagination – thus enabling students and teachers to merge the realities right in the classroom or at home.

Originally co-founded with German-based business partner Inna Armstrong, the firm’s original products were personalised children’s books that worked with AR with the aim of helping pre-school children learn life skills and develop their imaginations.

It combined a classical book, such as a fairy tale, that you could keep in your hands and read it combined with the AR technology, bringing book characters to life.

The books taught educational life lessons such about being courageous, taking medicine when sick, eating vegetables because it’s healthy, not being afraid of the darkness and tooth fairy secrets.

Yegorina is originally from Ukraine and has a master’s degree in linguistics and language teaching. She used her skill set to expand the business into educational products aimed at primary school children.

Growth didn’t happen without hiccups


The company’s growth didn’t happen without hiccups, however, as dealing with ineffectual publishers and software glitches brought a steep learning curve.

This didn’t deter the owners and the company survived these pitfalls by being financially prudent, that is, borrowing the minimal amount and reinvesting any profits from its pre-school range back into the company.

During testing, the founders noticed how their technology was especially beneficial to less academically successful students and also those with learning difficulties.

Their research indicated that it has helped students improve their test score by up to 33 per cent and increase the retention rate by up to 100 per cent. They intend to do further research into these findings with the hope of developing new products that cater for these students.

With five per cent of schools using AR solutions for classroom teaching, CleverBooks aims to be the market leader and to being about a rapid expansion of the use of this technology.

Author: Kenneth Mitchell, BEng, HDip, MSc CEng, MIEI, is a chartered engineer in the fields of chemical and environmental engineering

https://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/a2-1.pnghttps://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/a2-1-300x300.pngDavid O'RiordanChem3D,education,STEM
It is widely accepted that getting children interested in STEM subjects from an early age should be encouraged as it provides a gateway for future interest in later years. An Irish startup, CleverBooks, is doing this by integrating modern technology into the teaching of these subjects. Education research tells us...