Designing Augmented Reality Experiences for Science Education


Augmented Reality, Instructional Design, Earth Science


In science education, there are often highly three-dimensional concepts, processes, and objects which are difficult to understand in a two-dimensional context, yet, this is how we usually attempt to teach them. For example, when teaching chemistry we may attempt to describe an atom by drawing it on a whiteboard and describing it. Although this method can be beneficial, it leaves much up to the imagination and can often leave many students confused. However, augmented reality (AR) can be leveraged to help students not only visualize three-dimensional objects and ideas but interact with them in a meaningful way. It provides many affordances, such as recreating existing aspects of the physical world in a controlled environment or allowing visibility of things normally invisible to the naked eye. Using sound design principles and relevant earth science education content, we created an AR experience using the tether-free Magic Leap AR headset to enhance a 6-ft globe exhibit in a university library. It teaches about the Earth’s magnetic field and how it protects the Earth from harmful solar particles. In designing and testing the experience, we have learned many valuable lessons about AR in science education and important considerations when designing and developing a virtual learning experience that we hope to share with the world

Original Publication Citation

J. Ellsworth, D. Pixton. (2020). Designing augmented reality experiences for science education, in Proceedings of the International Conference on New Perspectives in Science Education, 9th Edition, 19-20 March, Florence, Italy, 76-81.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Proceedings of the International Conference on New Perspectives in Science Education




Harold B. Lee Library

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor