Research into natural science education has shown that many learners make use of pre-existing concepts to visualize how electric circuits work that do not align with the actual physical phenomena. Examples include thinking of electricity as something that gets consumed or not seeing it as a system. Conceptual models used in physics education (e.g. electricity as a bicycle chain or water with different pressure levels) are supposed to help with understanding, but at the same time only explain certain aspects of an electric circuit and likewise introduce misconceptions.
As part of this project we are developing an augmented reality application that adds interactive visualizations in real-time to construction blocks for electric circuits. Learners can use these blocks to create their own fully-functioning circuits. With a tablet we then overlay visualizations of various conceptual models directly on top of these blocks.
Our hypothesis is that combining actual physical blocks with augmented reality provides added value over a computer-based simulations or animations by making it tangible and interactive). In our case, augmented reality acts a mediator between perception, mental models and physics concepts.
The project is part of a four year program of Swiss universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education to improve education in STEAM topics.