April 10, 2019

Augmented reality in early childhood and pre-education

“Where did the fox go?”, Sarah enthusiastically wondered. She stepped over to the other side of the room with the tablet in a firm grasp, followed by the rest of her group. “Ha! It’s there, at the left side on top of the bookshelf!”, Martin exclaimed as he helped her zooming in on the screen. “Let’s place him in our forest with the rest of his friends!”, Sarah concluded.


Many of us recognize the playful and creative minds of young kids in the early education. The imagination they implement in their plays and games has few limits. This mindset is an important skill in the future, and it’s a reason for us adults to encourage fun and creative activities for children where they can have an active part.


This is one of the key aspects on which the Finnish curriculum is built upon. Children's own input and motivation should be integrated in the main frame of teaching. The goals of education and learning are often vast, but do not exclude engagement, playfulness or many varieties of fun. This is why augmented reality works well with children in the early stages of education and why it is implemented in various kinds of teaching. It gives learning a purpose, because the making and all the objects are connected to the real environment.


What is the pedagogic value that augmented reality adds to our teaching? It is a critical question to ponder on when deciding to include AR in everyday classrooms. Having students exposed to new technology cannot be the sole purpose of using technology in class. The 3DBear app is designed to help kids to tap on and express their creativity and imagination. Children can, for example, learn letters and numbers better by connecting them to and viewing them in real surroundings. They can bring their own stories to life, or the other way around, be inspired to tell stories based on virtual characters they add in AR. They can even furnish the whole room or organize a treasure hunt with their friends. Everything, with a deeper purpose of learning.


3D-modelling is considered to be one of the most important future skills. The 3DBear application offers children an easy and user-friendly approach to the first steps of 3D-modelling, expanding their spatial perception and understanding, which further on can be utilized in more advanced modelling software.


Many schools and kindergartens in Finland have recognized the benefits of AR in education and the amount of users is constantly increasing. Augmented reality does not replace other methods of teaching, but can instead be innovatively combined with them. The easiest way to discover this, is simply trying it out. My best tip to all fellow teachers is to grasp the tablet, open the 3DBear app and dive into the world of AR.


by Rasmus Borg, Pedagogic Specialist at 3DBear

March 29, 2019

Augmented Reality Lesson Spotlight: Bring Nutrition to Life

The cool factor behind augmented reality might grab the attention of students at first glance, but can this technology really change the way students interact with content in their classroom? Making teaching and learning relevant and engaging for students can take many forms. With augmented reality in the classroom, students can bring their ideas to life and represent their thinking in new ways.

Earlier this year I shared a blog post on augmented reality and Web 3.0 featuring 3DBear. If you haven’t gotten a chance to look at their dynamic EdTech tool, I definitely recommend that you take a look. At TCEA in San Antonio last month, I sat in on a presentation where Kurt Allen from 3DBear shared the quick steps for getting started with a room full of enthusiastic educators.

Augmented Reality Lesson

So in this blog post, I wanted to spotlight an augmented reality lesson with you. It focuses on nutrition and how you can explore this topic with students of all ages. Of course, you’ll want to tailor this activity to the needs of your particular group.

One advantage of these types of augmented reality projects is that they lend themselves to cross-curricular lessons. You might make connections to other learning goals, or even speaking and listening standards. This type of exploration can happen if students work collaboratively or present what they have created to their peers or a broader audience. If students are conducting research, you might also make connections to information reading standards.

Middle School and Elementary Nutrition Lesson

In elementary or middle school, you might start with a robust discussion on nutrition. Students might watch a TED-Ed video to help answer some of their questions, or explore a curated list of articles hosted online. You can decide on the focus area or emphasis you would like to place on a specific part of a nutrition unit.

You can then have students open up the health and nutrition collection inside of 3DBear. Here they will find lots of objects that can help them create a healthy meal and an unhealthy meal. Students can “place” the objects on their desk or another surface. Then they can take a screenshot/picture or even a video with a voice-over and share what they have created with classmates.

3DBear has a teacher dashboard where you can view or share snapshots of your students’ work. If your elementary students already use a tool like Seesaw, this is a great “app smash” opportunity. They can record their voice over their picture to explain their thinking. If your middle school students use Google Classroom, they can post their image or submit it to their teacher using this platform.

High School Nutrition Lesson

At the high school level, you might have students work in small groups so they can do more analysis, research, problem solving, and iteration. One group can focus on a particular diet plan like Keto or the Mediterranean Diet. Then they can decide on a daily meal plan for someone eating within those parameters.

Students can research how their meal plans connect to a particular diet and represent best practices in healthy eating. After they have solidified their plan, students can find elements of those foods in the health and nutrition collection inside of 3DBear or Thingiverse. Alternatively, students can build them in Sketchup or Tinkercad. Teachers can even curate their own custom collection around any topic of project in Thingiverse if they would like.


After their research and 3D modeling is complete, students can create a video of the meals and share any additional conclusions. Depending on your focus area for this type of activity, you might have students report on nutritional content, caloric content, percentage of recommended dosage, and/or amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, sugar, and salt in a meal.

Design Thinking and Augmented Reality

With both of the augmented reality activity ideas explained above, you can make use of the pre-made content within 3DBear. All you have to do is use the keyword search inside the tool to find elements related to a topic. This feature is great as a support for students, or for activities that might have time constraints where they won’t have time to design their own.

One feature of 3DBear that I find particularly compelling is that instead of just searching for elements, you can add custom elements to your library. So if you’re completing a new unit on a specific topic, this can become part of the research and development portion of a unit of study. Students can create elements and add them to 3DBear. So 3DBear becomes the tool for video creation, allowing students to create for an authentic audience.

Special Offer from 3DBear

The team at 3DBear has a special offer going on right now. If you sign up for next year now, you get the rest of this year as a bonus free. If you want just want to try 3DBear with your class for 30 days, head over to their website to take advantage of their free trial and special bonus with an annual subscription!

By Monica Burns, Class Tech Tips

March 27, 2019

December 11, 2018

Planning Learning Environment with Augmented Reality (AR)

John Dewey, an American philosopher theorized that learning should be relevant and practical, not just passive and theoretical. Modern day school has often been criticized as being an island outside of society, educating theoretical knowledge with a little contextual connections in real world. While in recent years advances in educational technology have produced e.g. simulations and virtual worlds that have narrowed the gap between the ”two worlds”, so far the use of these technologies have required hardware that is not usually commonly available in schools.

Planning Learning Environment with Augmented Reality (AR)

Today, things are changing. According to Wikipedia, Augmented Reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment whereby the objects that reside in the real world are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities. Augmented reality combined with the use of smart phones or mobile devices enables users to combine 3D modeled objects into a physical world with an augmented reality application. Unlike Virtual Reality (VR), which creates a totally artificial environment, AR integrates digital information with the user’s environment in real time.

There is a huge potential of combining AR and smartphones for education and some of it has already been realized into applications: you can e.g. interact with 3D modeled human organs, perform a virtual practice, combine different chemical elements to see how they react or turn mathematical concepts into 3D models for easier understanding.

Even though AR is making its way into education, AR applications that offer pedagogical framework in addition to the actual application are rare. The city of Kaarina in Finland applied and received funding from the Finnish National Board of Education to a project called PLEAR (Planning Learning Environment with Augmented Reality) in which students and teachers start designing their new school’s learning environment in augmented reality and then 3D print the best improvements. The project will be carried out in cooperation with 3DBear, a Finnish company that brings AR to classrooms with an app and desires to help educators create an environment in which students can learn life-skills that will make them successful in the 21st century. The background of PLEAR lies partially in the fact that Kaarina – as many other Finnish municipalities – are currently struggling with older school buildings that have poor ventilation, have suffered from water damages or are otherwise out of date and need to be replaced with new buildings.

Planning Learning Environment with Augmented Reality (AR)

It is imperative to involve users to design process right from the start. This in Kaarina includes the process of producing a pedagogical framework with the staff, but with PLEAR we are also going to make the design process more student-driven. The design process should be ground-up and involve all of the stakeholders. Architects in time can take it from there, designing a building which matches teaching and learning processes that educators and students etc. have hoped for and which today are common for modern learning spaces: e.g. open and transparent spaces; flexible seating; adjustable space dividers to enable both private and group work; encourage student and colleague collaboration; and easy-to-move furniture to allow adaptability etc.

Planning environment itself is of course not a school subject, but project PLEAR embraces many of the goals set by the Finnish National Curriculum e.g. empowering students to become active innovators, encourage creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. The goals of the project are to get students acquainted with the thinking process of design and project-based learning, learn to use AR technology with their mobile devices and unite real-life/open-ended problems with curriculum. AR is helpul in visualizing design ideas and learning through iteration and design thinking.

PLEAR will make it possible to commit the actual users of the final product (new school building) in a way that their ideas and visions will be taken into the actual architectural and building compositions. The project will stand out also because for the first time, all of the Finnish school interior design companies are taking part, as their school furniture products will be imported into 3DBear’s application in a format that enables students to add a multitude of real school furniture products and artifacts into their designs.

As the project continues and evolves, we are hoping to be able to create a model from the design process that can later be replicated and taken into use in any other school design process. I will be posting future advances from the project in this blog.

by Dr. Keijo Sipilä Chief Digital Officer, Department of Education (Kaarina, Finland)

November 28, 2018

Pioneering involvement in Espoo – developing the urban environment in augmented reality

ncreasing the comfort of metro stations in augmented reality

Increasing the comfort of metro stations in augmented reality

What do users think makes a functional metro station? How can school children plan their own environment visually? Can residents express their ideas to improve the urban environment visually and share them with decision-makers? In March 2018, Espoo took the plunge and went along in a digital trial of augmented reality, which aimed to study the suitability of new technology for helping schoolchildren and local residents become involved in the planning of their own environments. The goal of the trial was to develop digital skills among children and city residents and involve them in urban planning in an easy and enticing way. The trial was conducted in accordance with the Espoo joint development model, in cooperation with 3DBear, the company that developed the augmented reality application. Three Espoo-based schools and the Espoo City Museum took part in the effort.

School workshops

Pupil workshops were initiated at the Meritori and Tapiola schools. The use of the application was explored first. Pupils and teachers can use the application to add their desired elements to their environment digitally and examine the view on the display of a mobile phone or tablet. With the design tool, you can easily move, remove and replace fixtures or plants, for example. Classroom teacher Kati Jääskö-Santala took part in the workshop with her 3rd grade at Meritori School and, encouraged by the positive experiences, continued the trial in the autumn with her new class at Koulumestari School. “At the beginning of the workshop, the pupils got to use augmented reality to mark locations at school with emotion symbols, indicating what they found nice, scary or conducive to learning. The results provided new information. For example, many wanted the cafeteria to be more pleasant and comfortable, although I personally think it’s already nice. Some of the marked locations were surprising as some found the school toilets, for example, highly unpleasant. In the midst of their hectic day-to-day, teachers may not notice how pupils feel about a comfortable work environment and select certain locations based on their own views. The trial provided teachers with important insight into the pupils’ preferences, which can be used to ensure optimal learning. The exercise also expanded my own views about comfortable premises. I’ve noticed that I often find that, for a location to be pleasant and comfortable, it needs to have been built for the purpose,” Kati Jääskö-Santala says.

Pupil workshop at Tapiola metro station.

Pupil workshop at Tapiola metro station.

The pupil workshops continued in September when Tapiola School 8th graders were mobilised to plan the Tapiola metro station from the perspective of various user groups. The young people examined the functionality and comfort of the metro station from the viewpoints of children with families, commuters, youths, senior citizens and disabled persons. Working in the actual environment produced numerous new ideas to develop the metro station:

• one direct lift connection down to the metro tracks (not just the parking garage)

• more benches and plants

• a pedestrian crossing to the parking garage

• voice guidance for the visually impaired

• an info board is required

• more clocks in visible positions – possibly times from different countries

• presentation space for companies in the empty areas

• clearer signs indicating the locations of toilets and lifts, for example

• lower stair railings – small children can pass under them

• more visual decorations and art

• moving walkaway to enable passage with carts and baby carriages

• play areas for children

Pupil workshop at Tapiola metro station.

Pupil workshop at Tapiola metro station.

Correspondingly, 4th graders from Meritori School planned the upcoming Kivenlahti metro station and visualised their ideas with augmented reality. Based on these ideas, the pupils then built the metro station from 3D-printed miniatures. The scale model is displayed at the Espoo City Museum. “It was a pleasure putting the pupils’ work up for display in the pop-up exhibition area in the KAMU Lobby after the trial. As originally planned, they will also be included in KAMU’s next changing exhibition “Katse horisontissa” (Eyes on the horizon). Since the museum has also worked to support school education in accordance with the new curriculum, a trial of this kind was deemed to be an excellent way of implementing pupil-oriented multi-disciplinary learning,” Museum Educator Tiina Hero says.

Pupil workshop at Tapiola metro station.

Planning the environment of the upcoming Kivenlahti metro station. 3D-printed scale model by pupils of Meritori School.

Active city residents show their value

On Espoo Day, local residents were provided with a new kind of opportunity to participate in the planning of their own urban environment. The workshop was organised in collaboration with Espoo City Museum. Valia Wistuba, Development Manager of Espoo's Digiagenda strategy, is satisfied with the day: “It was great to see how well the application was received among local residents and customers when we took to the streets in the centre of Tapiola on Espoo Day. The locals appreciated that the City of Espoo is interested in the development of urban spaces and environments and hearing the residents’ wishes and feedback.”

The proposals submitted by the residents on the development of the urban environment were also forwarded to the regional planning architect for review. The trial indicated that an easy-to-use digital solution can be used to engage residents of varying ages in the development of their own urban environment.“The trial was extremely interesting from my viewpoint, since we also got to test the utilisation of augmented reality from a variety of perspectives. It was wonderful to see how the 3DBear application could entice both children and young people in schools as well as city residents to create ideas on the development of their own local environment. I think that augmented reality applications have a great deal of potential in terms of engaging local residents in development efforts,” says City of Espoo Chief Digital Officer Harri Luttinen.

In conjunction with the WeeGee+Design event, 3DBear was involved with a workshop of its own. This enabled the application to be tested under guidance on museum premises and the museum to be shaped through augmented reality. “Participatory projects related to modern Espoo are still a new thing for Espoo City Museum, so the trial also challenged the museum itself to act in a new way,” Museum Educator Tiina Hero says.

The Design+WeeGee event engaged visitors to design the museum via augmented reality.

The Design+WeeGee event engaged visitors to design the museum via augmented reality.

The next steps

The trial culminated in a presentation event at the end of November, which provided school children and representatives of the city and 3DBear alike with the opportunity to voice their views. Everyone’s experiences had been very positive. “The Espoo digital trial was extremely successful. We were able to test phenomena-based learning in a new way utilising augmented reality and technology that had previously only been used for playing games. Finland has a unique opportunity to take pole position in  international competition for XR technologies. Innovative cities, such as Espoo, that are not afraid to try new things are quite simply making it possible for start-ups to emerge in this fields,” 3DBear’s Chief Operating Officer Jussi Kajala says in summary.

“The 3DBear application is an excellent tool for developing creativity, which enables children to immediately see the functionality of their own ideas in an authentic environment. The application has almost limitless opportunities for use in school environments,” classroom teacher Kati Jääskö-Santala says. She looks forward to planning and designing other school spaces and the surrounding environment with pupils. 3DBear's Education Lead Maria Muuri feels the same way: “Schools need participation and pedagogic tools that support independent thinking and growth into active citizenship. Digital technology and augmented reality are excellent for this kind of work. It is particularly valuable that the application can be used to share ideas and suggestions visually with the latest technology. Sometimes a picture is worth more than a thousand words.

Espoo City Museum has already turned its sights on the future. “We initially got involved in the trial excited by the opportunity to model the history of locations in Espoo in the present, in accordance with 3DBear’s trial proposal. We’ve had good experiences with trials in the context of both pedagogic and digital projects. In the actual implementation phase, the trial was steered towards modern-day, future and increasing engagement among children, in accordance with the museum’s new vision, since this seemed like a fruitful perspective for all those involved. We wanted the pupils’ voice to be heard in the development of school environments and the local urban environment. The trial proved that an augmented reality application would be a great way of engaging a large number of pupils in the planning of their own environment, even without the necessity to allocate human resources from the museum or the Premises Department1. In this way, the operating model could even cover all schools in Espoo,” Museum Education Tiina Hero reflects.


The 3DBear AR application is available from the AppStore and Google Play.



September 25, 2018

Transatlantic AR Classroom Reaches to Mars

Today we, students in English school Helsinki,  worked collaboratively with a school in US, Oregon Middle school, to create a colony on Mars using 3DBear AR application. After arriving at Valimotie, we formed groups of 4-6. We spent time getting familiar with the 3DBear AR. 3DBear AR is an innovative learning application that allows users to build Augmented Reality scenes using virtual 3D models and their surroundings. It adaptably allows educators to teach various content in any grade level and any subject using Augmented Reality, 3D-printing and 21st century skills.

Transatlantic AR Classroom Reaches to Mars

After getting familiar with the app we called the Oregon Middle School. We were given a copy sheet about Mars. After working on the copy sheet we shared our answers with the students of Oregon Middle school. Then we researched about Mars on iPads.

Transatlantic AR Classroom Reaches to Mars

We started creating our own colonies on Mars using 3DBear AR.

Transatlantic AR Classroom Reaches to Mars

At the end of the session we shared our Mars colonies that we’d been working on, with the students from Oregon Middle school.

Transatlantic AR Classroom Reaches to Mars

We ended up telling about the things we like. The students from Oregon Middle school liked many same things as us.

It was amazing working and sharing our Mars colonies with the students from Oregon Middle school. This was also an amazing opportunity to work with another school.

We ended up telling about the things we like

Thank you Oregon Middle school! This was really fun!

Our teacher Leena Liimatainen comments:  It is thrilling to see pupils meet with children from the other side of the globe. They started instantly solving problems that starting a settlement on Mars would bring and creating fantastic solutions for them. We witnessed active group work and communication both in the groups and with our partner Oregon MS on Long Island. This is how it feels to hold future in your hands!

Writers: Anni and Zixin from English School, Helsinki

Transatlantic AR Classroom Reaches to Mars
August 2, 2018

3DBear featured in EdSurge

3DBear featured in EdSurge

EdSurge provides independent news and resources to help readers understand the role of technology in education. They published our Education Lead´s article about Finnish education. These education principles distinguish Finland and are built into 3DBearAR-appilication. Read the article here:

Teachers are highly educated in Finland. Traditionally teachers have primarily taught school subjects. At the moment we are moving away from subjects towards a future where teachers will teach problem solving, learning and thinking skills. This makes teaching more phenomenon and problem based. Finland´s national core curriculum provides a uniform foundation for local curricula to promote equality in education.