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Wearable Tech

Google's 'superpower' for teachers: AR and VR

So far, Google's AR program has taken 2 million kids to the coral reefs and space.

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Let's all give Google a pat on the back. With a project to bring AR to classrooms, the tech giant has found a way to make selfie sticks cool.

But even more than that, Google Expeditions -- an educational initiative that's so far touched over 2 million students in two years -- wants to make learning cool.

Google is just one tech company putting cutting-edge technology in schools. And what makes AR and VR different from seeding static devices like Chromebooks and tablets at desks and special labs, is that AR and VR can help create ever-changing experiences that push kids into new spaces.

AR on a phone and VR on the Daydream headset regularly help classroom lessons hit home, Google said, as kids soar through the solar system, watch pollution kill off coral reefs and dive into the human body to see how cell structures work.

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"Kids can get that 'aha' moment and see objects from all angles," said Ben Schrom, a product manager with Google Expeditions.

With AR especially, teachers can plant virtual objects around the classroom for students to discover. Students often gather in front of the object and talk about it as if it's actually in the room. Teachers can then change the object, point things out and control the pace of the class.

Google doesn't only want to provide the phones and software to make AR and VR happen. It wants to help nurture an ecosystem for educators to share the lesson plans that work and don't work.

"It's been fun to grant teachers a new superpower," Schrom said.

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