Augmented Science Centers and Museums

Equipped with an AR system a visitor examines the physical effects of an ascending hot air balloon.

EXPLOAR was a continuation of the CONNECT project. As part of CONNECT a learning environment was developed and evaluated. The learning environment enabled teachers, experts and students to enhance conventional teaching with natural types of learning. To achieve this, several exhibits in Science Centers and museums were equipped with virtual content and made accessible to the visitors with Augmented Reality Technology.

EXPLOAR carried on the approach with one Science Center in Finland (HEUREKA) and one in Greece (Eugenides Foundation). The amount of virtual content was increased and the focus was lied on much more detailed evaluation.

Visitors of the Science Centers were equipped with a mobile Augmented Reality (AR) system which consisted of a portable computer and a head-mounted display with an additional hybrid tracking device and two small cameras. This enables a multimodal enhancement of the visitor’s senses: among others, electromagnetic waves, aerodynamics and molecular movements become perceptible in new ways. The system is interactive: If you manipulate the real parts of an exhibit, the virtual ones are adapted accordingly. Users can test, judge and modify their theories in an explorative manner. The AR system becomes a constructivistic tool which makes playful learning possible.

In addition to the two Science Centers in Finland and Greece there was a mobile exhibit which was presented during conferences throughout the EU for evaluation and dissemination.

Main project goals

The following aspects were the main goals of EXPLOAR:

  • Develop a pedagogical framework that attempts to blend informal and formal learning and to situate learning in real-world contexts. 
  • Pilot and demonstrate the EXPLOAR system in science centers and museums in Greece and Finland and further disseminate the system through various events within the EU. 
  • Create virtual learning communities of museum visitors and involve them in extended episodes of playful learning.
EXPLOAR was co-funded by the European Commission and finished in November 2009.