Yorktown Elementary School Partners With Tech Company For Augmented Reality App

Photo from press event on Wednesday May 5th at the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting Indiana. Photo providedPhoto from press event on Wednesday May 5th at the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting Indiana. Photo provided

By Linda C. Smith, Ph.D., Media/STEM/Technology Specialist, Yorktown Community Schools—

WHITING, Ind. – Explore Interactive, a West Lafayette-based ed-tech company, has received $1 million in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding from the National Science Foundation. In addition, Explore Interactive has been awarded $75,000 from Elevate Ventures through the state of Indiana’s SBIR/STTR Phase II Matching Program.

Launched in 2017, Explore Interactive uses augmented reality to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts to elementary students. The company’s first product in the planned MindLabs series allows students to collaborate on engineering and circuit design challenges.

Yorktown Elementary Schools will continue its collaborative work with Explore Interactive to inform future iterations of Explore’s Mindlabs Augmented Reality (AR) App. A pilot study on the current product began on Monday, May 9, 2022, and will run through May 18, 2022. The product developers will use student and teacher feedback to develop the National Science Foundation (NSA) Phase II funded product, with future testing occurring over the next two-year life of the grant. All fourth-grade students and their science teachers will work with Dr. Linda Smith (Yorktown Community Schools STEM Specialist) to save the world during their augmented reality mission.

Explore Interactive has also announced a partnership with Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting to bring its educational content to even more students. As part of the partnership with Mascot Hall of Fame, Explore Interactive will create STEM-based content featuring Reggy, the museum’s mascot and expand to include some of the most popular mascots in the country.

Karen Anaszewicz, executive director of Mascot Hall of Fame said, “We are thrilled to embark on this project which we see as a way to reach a broad and diverse group of students while fulfilling our mission to spark creativity, promote fun and engage in our communities throughout the world with our model of combining science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) educational principles and sport mascot entertainment.”

The funding and partnership will allow Explore Interactive to continue its mission of making STEM learning fun and engaging for young students. With augmented reality, students can see concepts come to life right in front of them, making learning more interactive. The partnership will also help expand the reach of Explore Interactive’s content, exposing more students to these important subjects.

“This funding will allow us to both build compelling content and bring augmented reality together with the engineering design process for the first time for young students,” said Explore Interactive CEO Amanda Thompson. “We’re also excited to partner with the Mascot Hall of Fame to reach a wider audience through combining our interactive AR platform with the museum’s engaging approach to STEM through sports and entertainment.”

Explore Interactive is an educational technology company based at Purdue University’s Research Park that is dedicated to democratizing STEM education with accessible and interactive learning through augmented reality. Supported by America’s Seed Fund SBIR grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, Explore developed MindLabs, a product that pairs an innovative augmented reality app with a physical card sets available at www.exploremindlabs.com and PASCO Scientific. This dynamic digital and physical combination gives parents and educators of elementary students hands-on STEM learning that is easy to learn and use, even for beginners! The guided engineering challenges teach concepts while the open-ended design space provides a venue for collaborative projects even for remote learners.

More than just a giant fun factory, the MHOF houses interactive, educational displays and activities that will incorporate S.T.E.A.M. education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) to complement state and local curriculums. Guests will experience exhibits such as the “Department of Furry Arts”, the “Science of Silliness Lab”, and the “Phuzzical Education Department”. The MHOF is the perfect destination for family adventures, school field trips and mascot fans of all ages.