Simulating Real-Life Problems in Secondary Science Class: A Socio-scientific Issue Carried through by an Augmented Reality Simulation

Thomas Lundblad, Claes Malmberg, Mats Areskoug, Per Jönsson


With the purpose of developing new methods in science education, the authors combine a socio-scientific issue and game-based technologies from augmented reality games into an intervention activity called Transformer. The authors design the intervention, collect and analyze data, and present results using the three elements from the theory of transformational play (Barab, Gresalfi & Ingram-Goble 2010) namely: engaging and stimulating roles, scientifically relevant content and complex and societally significant context. In Transformer, 20 upper-secondary students engage in a role-play concerning the project of building a school campus area close to a transformer station. The students explore the actual area using simulation-based mobile technologies to collect information through interviews with virtual characters, virtual measurements, and own observations. Collected information is synthesized into arguments concerning the appropriateness of building the campus area. The Transformer activity is based on SSI (socio-scientific issue), a pedagogical model aiming at developing students’ competences to make well-informed decisions through engaging them in complex societal issues.

Data from the intervention are collected with multiple methods using questionnaires and interviews. The analysis illustrates expressions of immersive role play and active and engaged students who enjoy the opportunity of working in groups with a challenging task outside the class room. For some roles, however, there is room for improvement in the outdoor part of the intervention. We argue that this design perspective makes it feasible for a teacher or team of teachers to stage a multi-disciplinary engaging intervention that is constructively aligned with the students’ and teachers’ own practices and that addresses curricular goals.


augmented reality (AR); design-based research; science education; socio-scientific issue (SSI); upper-secondary education

Full Text: