Developing Problem Solving using AR

This summer, we were asked to share our One Best Thing (OBT). This is the story of my OBT with my colleague Caroline and we're looking forward to see how much further we can take this!


A few years back, me and Caroline D'Amours (ADE2023), were working together to develop problem solving skills with her kindergarten students. She was already doing some physical "find the culprit" type of activities with her students, like this live scene of a book being stolen. 

Example of the "Find the culprit" scene

A video was also used in order to give other clues to students so they could in the end, find out another teacher had borrowed said book.

Based off this experience and some other activities Caroline was doing, we started playing with Reality Composer that had just come out. We are a K-6 school that uses tech a lot and this was just another way to incorporate tech in the curriculum in our eyes. There were no tutorials for Reality Composer at the time so we asked some time off class to our principal to experiment and develop such a situation.

After a full day of working together, problem solving and teamwork, we had built our first AR Christmas elves workshop problem solving situation. Using Memojis, we recorded elves videos that would talk to the students to help out with clues.

Example of the list of culprits

We also incorporated a few clues here and there in the scene. As a first experience, this was a fun way to have kids develop problem solving skills and they had a blast figuring ou which elf had broken the gift by accident.

AR Scene of the workshop where the toy was broken.

This being a first experience, we were happy with what we had built but we thought we could take this up a notch. We therefore built another complete scene based on the Easter bunny, once again, for Caroline's students. Having learned from our first experience, we figured that students needed to get clues little by little, in a funnel type of way. Also, not everything is available in Reality Composer, so we had to adapt. That is when we figured we would build the easter bunny's barn, saying his chocolate eggs for the kids were stolen. Animal Memojis would be perfect for this situation. We took on this challenge once again. 

The rabbit speaks in French since we are in a French speaking environment but he basically says his eggs were stolen and he'll need help figuring out who stole them. We then gave the students a list of suspects that could have done it.

Image shown to the students to represent the suspects.

After all this context was built, we then gave them iPads with the barn built in AR. They could move around in it and explore this environment.

This is our build of the barn in Reality Composer

The students could then eliminate suspects as they went. In the video, Rabbit mentions that a 4 legged animal is responsible... That means chicken didn't do it right? In the scene, you can find a picture of the rabbit with the fox. Good friends would not steal your eggs right? Fox was out. Then the students would find white hair on the floor. Pig is therefore not implicated since he has no white hair. That leaves us with only 2 possible suspects.

If needed, rabbit came back to mention that he is certain that the doors were locked all night. Some students had already found it, others hadn't but hidden behind a plant, there was a mouse hole in the wall. Therefore, the mouse was responsible for this sad easter situation. The good thing is mouse had brought the eggs to the classroom to give to the students. Everyone was really happy of having solved the situation.,

Alright, this is a long preamble but that was our OBT to start with. We then thought about how we can make this even more significant and how we can take this even further. The fact that I'm a grade 2 teacher made me think that we could work on problem solving skills with older students too. Obviously, we would have to change a few things. We therefore came up with this idea :

How about we take one of those paper problem solving situations and make the students live through it. I have already experimented with deconstructed problems and mixing both of these ideas seems like a good plan. In a deconstructed problem situation, students only get the goal and they need to ask questions and clues in order to be able to solve the problem. Example : I want to bake cookies for an event, I need you to tell me the cost. They would have to ask about the amount of cookies, ingredients, cost of ingredients and so on. Now, how are we going to build this in AR?

The base idea is to have them prepare Halloween night for us. They would have to buy candies in order to make as many perfect replica bags from an example and tell us the cost of those candies. We would build a candy shop in AR with candies all over the place (but easily distinguishable). We would have a poster with the price of the different types of candies. Students would get an example bag of what they have to replicate and not every student would get the same bag. They would have to count how many of each type of candies are available in the shop, how many examples of their bags they could create, how much it would cost to buy those candies, ... This becomes way closer to a real life example of problem solving in our opinion. There are so many different ways we could take our OBT further! If you have any ideas to add to this situation, you are more than welcome to chip in!

If you've read through all of this, thank you and hopefully, our project idea might also be used in your context. If you have any other ideas on how to use AR to develop problem solving skills, please let us know, we are always looking to go even further!

All Replies

Posted on February 01, 2024

What an incredible activity! I love that you've connected AR with having students focus on their problem-solving skills. I'm going to brainstorm ways I can use your ideas to connect to some elementary geography lessons. Perhaps as a way to introduce a new concept and get an understanding of students' prior knowledge.

Thanks for sharing!

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