Augmented Reality Is Becoming A Reality at ASA

Augmented reality is a hot topic in current technology, and many gaming systems and entertainment sectors have capitalized on it, allowing gamers to seemingly experience sights and sounds that would otherwise be inaccessible. Of course, this technology can also be used in a variety of ways for educational purposes, and companies such as Google are jumping on board and inviting schools to sample exactly what augmented reality can offer their students and how it can enhance the educational experience for students of all ages.

Recently, All Saints Academy was honored to be chosen by the Google Expeditions AR Pioneer Program to participate in a day of introduction to the AR software being promoted for schools. We were excited to have Google on campus for a day of training teachers and exposing students to the amazing technology offered and how it can open up a world of learning opportunities in the classroom. While ASA has already incorporated AR into some of our classrooms (like that of Mrs. Kelly McNeil), the software brought by Google is a much higher level than many on the market, allowing students (and teachers) to “go through” and inside objects and see details of the subject matter not previously possible with other programs (such as Quiver AR, NASA 3DV, etc.). For the demonstration day here at All Saints, we had to meet certain classroom requirements and follow guidelines set by their representative, but once we met those they brought in all of their own equipment and were very helpful in using it. The hardware consists of Asus cell phones mounted on selfie sticks (this could change as the technology is further developed before being publicly released) and utilities an app. Mrs. Kelly McNeil says this about the process:

“Once the app is launched, the teacher has a ‘lead device’ and the teacher’s phone can control the other phones in terms of a pause button and go forward in the images. There are QR-type codes on laminated 8.5×11 pieces of paper all around the vicinity where the students are standing. The teacher instructs the students to scan the codes, and when they do, the Augmented Reality image pops up. There were different images based on each teacher and the lesson they chose to lead. I chose DaVinci’s Creations, so the first image was The Renaissance Man. Teachers had bits of information on their devices that they could read about each image, and students walked around the images looking at them up close and through them on their devices. Some images were a little more interactive  (like the Crossbow would actually shoot out little pebbles, the Robotic Knight had moving gears, etc.). If you are familiar with Pokemon Go AR – how you can ‘superimpose’ a Pokemon on top of the real background you see through your cell phone camera – this is how AR works. So the students were seeing giant images of all sorts through the camera while also seeing the real background of the library or room they were in.”

Other lessons taught to 362 of our students during the demonstration day at ASA included:

  • Jeanine Yacoub – Organic Chemistry and The Circulatory System
  • TJ Woolford – The World of Ancient Rome
  • John Iskra – Moon Landing
  • Amy Jahna, Heather Womersley, Marty Lopez, Kat Morris – Ecosystems of a Coral Reef
  • Jen Giansiracusa – The Space Race
  • Barbara Sheekey and Valerie Satterfield – Phases of the Moon
  • Allison Futch and Eileen Hutton – Dinosaurs
  • Virginia Drake-Jacobson and Kelly Harrington – Forces of Nature
  • Kelly McNeil – DaVinci’s Inventions
  • Grant Lyons – Topographical Continents

All Saints Academy is thrilled to have been picked to participate in trying out the trial of this technology. We look forward to offering our own feedback, as well as the feedback of our students, to further the project and hopefully move the product toward a public release and the opportunity for more schools to incorporate it into their educational programs. We look forward to seeing Augmented Realty become a reality at All Saints Academy, and hope it will only add to the already outstanding curriculum and educational environment we offer at ASA.

Meet The New Staff at ASA: Getting to Know Ms. Channa Comer

“I’m happy to be here and looking forward to learning from everybody. I see myself as a learner first before anything else…that’s an important mindset to teach and foster in kids.”

-Ms. Channa Comer

This year at ASA, we want to take time to introduce our wonderful educators, and give you a glimpse into who they are and how they make a positive impact on All Saints Academy. This month, our spotlight is on Ms. Channa Comer.

If you were to ask for her to sum up herself in one sentence, Ms. Comer would say “Science takes up my life!” She is the Science and Engineering Coach for our Lower School and a recent addition to the ASA family. She received her Bachelors in Business Management from Baruch College in NYC and her Master’s in Science Education from City College, and has a long list of impressive contributions to the science and education fields. Ms. Comer came to us from the DC Metro Area US Dept. of Energy, she and was part of the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship: Sponsored by US Department of Energy for STEM Educator across the country to work in federal agencies. She also worked in the office of science at the Department of Energy and Coordinated the National Science Bowl. Teaching young people is a passion for Ms. Comer, and she loves middle school education (especially 6th grade). She was the science dept. chair for Baychester Middle School in the Bronx, and is credited with starting many STEM-based after school programs including the GREEN Team, and Baychester Science and Engineering Club. She believes in enrichment for students of all backgrounds, and was able to pursue this through her position as curriculum specialists for the after school program at Baychester.

Ms. Comer’s career in science also influences many of her hobbies, as she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and cooking using publications such as Cooks Illustrated and Cooking Science magazine. Gardening and repurposing items are also hobbies, and she often turns old glass bottles into drink ware, or repurposes vintage clothing (Ms. Comer loves making headpieces for her dance costume). In her free time she enjoys yoga, dance, reading, and international travel. So far, she has been to multiple places in NA, SA, Asia, Africa, and Central America including Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Egypt, and Korea. Some of these travel opportunities were related to education and/or science, as she taught in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Korea. When she comes home though, the loves of Ms. Comer’s life are her two cats, Teena Turner and Lucy Luu and makes sure to spend quality time with both of them. She says if she was stuck on a deserted island with only three things, two of them would be her cats, and the third would be duct tape!

Some fun facts about Ms. Comer?

  • Favorite foods are pizza and ice cream (but she does try to eat healthy!)
  • She loves vampire movies (like “Twilight”)
  • She’s a big Stephen King fan
  • She’s working on two children’s science books right now, one in development (5-7) and a graphic novel about leaf cutter ants in Costa Rica.
  • Her dream, and goal, is to open a string of independent schools for underprivileged students in communities where they don’t have access to high quality education based on fostering learning and not test scores.
  • She has studied MMA, Kung Fu, and Karate.
  • She was a professional body builder back in the day.
  • She ran the 1994 London Marathon to raise money for the Leukemia Society.

We are so glad to have Ms. Comer as part of our team of educators here at All Saints Academy, and we can’t wait to see the great things she has in store for our students this year and in the years to come. Welcome Ms. Comer to the ASA family!

Private School or Independent School: Are They the Same?

When it comes to your child’s education, choosing a learning environment can be difficult at best. Factors such as curriculum, methodology and practices, quality of the educators, peers, and even extracurricular opportunities can all play a part in helping you make the decision about where to send your child to school when the time comes, and how that will work for your family unit as a whole. One option that might be on the table when laying out a plan for your child’s education is private education.

If you’ve spent any amount of time researching a private school, you’ll have likely seen another category of education come up. Independent Schools are another option for families seeking a higher-level education for their children, and often, the terms independent and private are interchanged when discussing schools outside the public realm. However, there are actually some key differences between the two, and they are important to consider when making a decision for your family and your child’s educational needs.

Private schools are, in short, any educational institution that doesn’t receive funding from the public, including state government sources. These schools can be run by (almost) any outside entity, including churches, non-profits, and even for-profit organizations. While independent schools fall under the umbrella of private schools in general, being listed as an “Independent School” means your institution is overseen by it’s own board of trustees or governors who have strict standards for the school and how it is run. Having a board dedicated to the school itself, rather than having an outside operation managing the school from a distance, often means Independent Schools can offer more resources, from state-of-the-art facilities to a plethora of extracurricular opportunities for their students. While some Independent Schools have a religious affiliation, the focus of these schools is actually high-level education for students of all ages and exceptional performance from their students and staff.

All Saints Academy is proud to be Polk County’s top Independent School choice for families in the Central Florida area. We strive to provide top-quality education from preschool through high-school graduation, and our students compete at a high level in all areas. We implement the arts, STEM learning, and a variety of teaching methods to ensure that the education children receive here is well-rounded, and preparing them for life beyond their school years, no matter which direction they choose following graduation, and our educators are carefully selected to best meet these goals. If you are interested in learning more about how your child can become part of the ASA family, we’d love to discuss our enrollment, scholarship opportunities, and what school life looks like here at All Saints Academy.

STEAM at Home: Keeping Your Kids Engaged This Summer

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) implementation is a huge part of the curriculum here at All Saints Academy.  From our youngest preschoolers in our Early Childhood classes, to our graduating seniors, STEAM is incorporated into education at ASA as much as possible.  We believe this attributes to our students becoming thinkers and lifelong learners, and we are excited to see how we can further incorporate these subjects into our upcoming school year.  However, we love to encourage our families to keep the learning going at home during the summer as well.

The best part of STEAM learning is that no pencils are required!  There are plenty of ways to keep your kids learning and discovering at home while having FUN.  Ideas include:

Get Slimed.  Kids of all ages are enjoying the slime trend.  From “fluffy slime” to oozing goo, this activity is not only great for sensory play with younger students, but is also a great way to introduce the science behind a chemical reaction.  Recipes for slime vary, and depending on the ages of your children, some ingredients may need to be avoided. Research to find one that works for you and get slimed!

LEGO!  Kids love Legos (and so do adults) but did you know they are more than a toy? LEGO bricks are a wonderful way to incorporate technology and engineering into your student’s playtime this summer.  Have your child brainstorm an idea, draw out a plan, and get building!  The internet has plenty of ideas to get you started, like a LEGO zip-line for your child’s favorite mini figure, or a catapult that can launch small items all the way across the room.  The possibilities are endless with a bucket of LEGOs and a little bit of imagination.

Encourage Creativity.  Art is an important part of learning, and there are plenty of ways to let your students express themselves at home during summer vacation.  Offer a variety of materials for creating, including drawing/painting supplies, clay for sculpture, instruments for music discovery, or recorded music for movement and dance.  Consider visiting local art exhibits or going to a concert over the break to expose your child to art of different types and spark their creativity!

Number Crunching.  Math doesn’t just mean equations, pencils, and paper.  Work math into everyday fun this summer with your kids.  From helping in the kitchen with cooking and baking, to a simple trip to the grocery store, there are many ways to incorporate math skills and problem solving into your regular routine.  Your child will be enjoying “break” time but still practicing their schoolwork!

We hope this will encourage you to continue the STEAM learning at home with your children this summer.  We can’t wait to see what our students have learned when they return for the 2017-2018 school year!

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