As the use of technology grows in the education sector, Google, among other technology companies, is keen to attract students and teachers to its products and services. Google has committed to innovation that it sees as a game-changer in education with Google Glass, a wearable device that puts the power of a computer on an optical display for the user.
Andrew Vanden Heuvel, a high school science teacher in Michigan, was selected by Google to purchase one of the Glass devices for $1,500 and use it as an early "Explorer" user of the new technology. Vanden Heuvel is using Google Glass to "virtually" take his students to amazing places in the world to learn about physics, science, math and more, according to Todd R. Weiss of Eweek:
When Google Glass asked prospective users to dream back in February about what they would do with Glass if they had one of the innovative, ground-breaking eyewear-mounted computers, Vanden Heuvel quickly composed his reply, which he sent off to Google's #ifihadglass Web page. "It would transform the way I would teach science, making every moment a teachable moment," wrote Vanden Heuvel in his entry.
The Google team selected Vanden Heuvel's description from one of some 8,000 chosen submissions in the contest. He was called by the company that his "entry had been selected as a winner and shared a surprise out of the blue."
Vanden Heuvel was offered by Google an all-expenses-paid trip with his newly purchased Glass device to Geneva, Switzerland, where he could capture his first lesson to his students from the site of the 16.7-mile-long Large Hadron Collider. He was accompanied by Google team and accompanying film crew delivered his Glass device to him at his home in Grand Haven, Mich.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator. It first started up on 10 September 2008, and remains the latest addition to CERN's accelerator complex. The LHC consists of a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way, according to CERN's website.
At the collider, Vanden Heuvel used Glass to communicate wirelessly via the Internet with a high school class that his brother, Ryan, teaches at South Christina High School in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Vanden Heuvel has been an independent online high school teacher since 2009. He works out of his home office to teach online classes at the Michigan Virtual School under contract. Previously, Vanden Heuvel had taught physics and astronomy in a traditional high school for three years.
Vanden Heuvel started a website, AGL Initiatives, where he develops online learning projects in science, math and technology. Following his Google Glass experiences, he created a video series called STEMbite, which he describes as "bite-size lessons in science and math from everyday life—all captured from a unique first-person point of view through Google Glass."
The STEMbite lessons, which are posted on YouTube, includes some 60 videos so far, including lessons on the physics of children's toys, the chemistry found in kitchens and the biology people can find in their own backyards.