In this episode, Kasey chats with Immersive Content Director Phil Birchinall from Discovery Education.
Phil shares the TimePod Adventures AR app, where students can virtually journey through time and space to Mars while solving challenges ranging from “fixing” their TimePod to discovering water on the planet.
This is a super cool app that encourages problem-based learning and STEM skills for students.
I wish this app had been around when I was a kid!
Listen to this article.
This episode is sponsored by Verizon Innovative Learning HQ.
To inspire tomorrow’s brightest minds, educators need today’s best tools. Introducing Verizon Innovative Learning HQ, an easy-to-use, free online portal that empowers K-12 educators to bring new ways of learning into the classroom. The site offers tools for all educators regardless of the technology available to them, including hundreds of free standards-based ready-to-teach lesson plans, immersive educational experiences, and professional development courses to help educators learn new skills, feel more confident with technology integration, and have the opportunity to earn research-backed micro-credentials. FREE. This back-to-school season, new curricula are available from partners including Discovery Education, McGraw Hill, and NYU. Also, new professional development courses and lesson plans focused on esports and game design. It’s all part of Verizon’s commitment to help close the digital divide. Start your journey at verizon.com/shakeup.
Solving Mysteries on Mars: TimePod AR
Welcome to Mars, y’all!
During my chat about TimePod with Phil, I felt like I was back in fourth grade–geeking out over Space Camp and everything space-related.
This is some seriously cool stuff!
It’s World Space Week!
Did you know? The United Nations General Assembly declared October 4th-10th World Space Week, an international celebration of science and technology.
Every year, space agencies, companies, museums, schools, and more hold space education and outreach events to commemorate World Space Week.
Using the power of AR/VR and immersive technology, teachers have the ability to bring space to life for their students.
What is TimePod Adventures?
TimePod Adventures is an augmented reality mobile app available on iOS and Android devices.
“Take the TimePod on a journey across time and space to Mars in 2024 to help solve a series of crises as Earth begins its full colonization of the red planet. You will be helped along by ADA (Autonomous Digital Assistant), who has traveled with the TimePod across millennia. As you encounter challenges, invite your friends to help you and even remotely control the TimePod wherever they are. Episode 1-Intro Sequence will get you familiarized with the TimePod, TimeFrames and ADA, as you fix the TimePod and arrive on Mars! In Episode 2-Water students will work to discover water on the planet. Students will work through questions to help them think through how to best utilize and secure water on Mars.
TimePod Adventures is an Augmented Reality app with multiplayer elements allowing multiple users to take part wherever they are through a browser.”
But wait, there’s more!
TimePod is part of Verizon Innovative Learning HQ, and you can access free lesson ideas and much more through their free, online portal.
*Related: Inspiring Students with AR All Year Long
Through TimePod app created in partnership with Discovery Education and Verizon, students are able to virtually journey through time and space to Mars while solving challenges ranging from “fixing” their TimePod to discovering water on the planet.
- Subjects: math, science, engineering
- Age group: K-12
- Technology needed: iPhone or iPad
The app leverages augmented reality and encourages design thinking and STEM learning to engage students in both space and future STEM careers.
Lessons for the app are accessible for free via Verizon Innovative Learning HQ.
Here are 5 TimePod Lessons to try (elementary, middle, and high school).
- Lesson: Junior Explorers (lower elementary) – In this activity, students will investigate the concept of exploration. They begin by sorting images related to exploration and discovery, which will lead to a discussion about where exploration can take place—on Earth and beyond
- Lesson: Explorer Responsibilities (upper elementary) – In this activity, students will explore Mars and reflect on the questions evoked by their discoveries. In preparation for their journey, students will share the ideas they associate with exploration and brainstorm some of the places left for humans to explore. After investigating Mars during their virtual experience, students will discuss guided questions that dig into the significance of the discovery.
- Lesson: Spotlight on Tourism (middle school) – This activity will lead students to reflect on the possibility of ecotourism on Mars. Students will begin by exploring the concept of everyday tourism as they collaborate to brainstorm the potential costs and benefits of tourism related to a place’s economy, culture, and environment. After exploring Mars during the virtual exploration, students will shift their focus to tourism on Mars. They will read an article to learn more about ecotourism and will ultimately be challenged to develop a sustainable plan for ecotourism on Mars.
- Lesson: Martian Ecotourism (high school) – In this activity, students will investigate ecotourism on Earth and then apply it to tourism on Mars. After learning about the concept of ecotourism, students will perform a jigsaw reading about real-life examples of ecotourism in communities around the world. As students read, they will look for costs and benefits related to the economy, social/cultural factors, and the environment. They will apply what they’ve learned to discuss whether they believe ecotourism has the potential to be predominantly positive or negative. After exploring Mars during the virtual exploration, students will imagine they are summoned by a special meeting of the governments who signed the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which governs peaceful space exploration.
- Lesson: Life on Mars (middle school) – In this activity, students will explore the diverse signs of life that can be hidden in water. After reading articles and creating a news report to help them understand the significance of water on Mars, they will observe pond water under a microscope as they search for single-celled and multi-celled organisms. They will then select an organism to research more in-depth as they further consider the role that each organism plays in its ecosystem. The session will wrap up with a class discussion around whether scientists should further study the water on Mars for signs of life.
What do you think? Are you excited to take your students to Mars?
*Related: 10 AR Math Lessons You Need to See
About Phil Birchinall
Location: East Cheshire, United Kingdom
Title: Senior Director, Immersive Content @ Discovery Education
Phil has been an educator and award-winning EdTech innovation leader for over 30 years, creating and delivering high-impact content into the classroom. In 2022, he was named one of the pioneers of immersive learning and has led regional and national education and innovation initiatives in the UK and globally. Phil was a co-founder of the award-winning immersive company Inspyro, which was acquired by Discovery Education in 2019.
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