Making the hypothesis a multimedia event

Instructional tech specialist wants to bring augmented reality to a science fair near you 

Science fairs in Douglas County will never be the same if teachers are able to follow the lead of an Oregon Academic Technology Society presentation that took place April 25 at Jesuit High School in Portland.

Ryan Zeedyk, instructional technology specialist with Douglas Education Service District attended the OAtS Augmented Reality Science Fair, thanks to a $1,200 mini-grant from the Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub. The grant covered travel expenses for the trio, which also included North Douglas High school teacher Christopher Emmick and Douglas ESD communications specialist DD Bixby.

The OAtS gathering expanded on the traditional science fair by adding augmented reality technology that gave each exhibit a timeless quality. Until now, student presenters at science fairs have been able to share their projects using photos and other static displays at an exhibit table. With the new technology, students can document not only the results of their projects, but also the entire process via a video presentation spectators can experience on iPads or other mobile devices. By scanning a panel of the project, visitors to the fair can watch a video of the student explaining and carrying out the project.

Even the trophies students took home had embedded messages that could be scanned by winners, their families and friends.

Zeedyk said the augmented reality format does more than provide details unavailable through the old-school format. The video documents that the student actually did the work assigned, as opposed to a parent or other adult.

In addition, the experience is valuable preparation for what Zeedyk referred to as the next age of scientists.

“Students who are interested in science and want to enter the field will have to present scientific experience and data through a variety of mediums,” Zeedyk said. “There’s a technology aspect as well, on how to present material with more than just paper and data sheets, and this prepares them for that.”

His trip to the OAtS science fair enabled Zeedyk to record images he plans to turn into a promotional video for local schools. He said he hopes to present the information to teachers and administrators with a view to inspiring them to creating an augmented reality science fair in Douglas County.

Should Douglas ESD earn a continuation grant next year, funds perhaps could be used to bring winners of the yet-to-be-organized Douglas County science fair to Portland for a future OAtS augmented reality fair.

And if so, that would bring our county to the forefront of the technological transition. Zeedyk said as far as he knows, the April 25 event was the first of its kind in the state.