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Merge Cubes: Innovative technology that encourages exploration

Hands-on learning takes on a new meaning when middle school teachers integrate innovative technology into the classroom.
Imagine being able to interact with the organs of the human body like a surgeon or explore space like an astronaut. Augmented reality technology through Merge Cubes allows students to have a hands-on learning experience in a whole new way. 

What is a Merge Cube?
The Merge Cube is a black and silver handheld cube with inlaid designs that interact with various Merge Cube apps to transform the cube into an interactive 3D object or simulation such as a replica of the human body, the solar system or an aquarium. Students can interact with the simulations in a “physical” sense by touching, holding and manipulating the digital canvas. 

Where did they come from?
SBS technology integration specialist Antoinette Latham and lower school technology teacher Ashleigh Manion saw the Merge Cubes in action at TCEA, an education technology conference.

“Merge Cube recently came out with a subscription geared toward higher-level science, adding a lot of content,” explained Antoinette Latham. “With the added features, Merge Cube allows students to use the virtual reality of the iPad and the technology of the cube to see science in a new way, such as holding the solar system in their hand or even dissecting a frog.” Seeking new ways to pursue educational excellence through innovation, Mrs. Latham introduced this new technology to middle school science teachers who use iPads in their classrooms.

How are students using Merge Cubes?
Middle science teacher Ana Konuma says, “I added Merge Cubes to our solar system unit. Using the app and the cubes, an augmented reality solar system appeared before the students' eyes, and planets actively rotated around the sun.” The hands-on technology allowed students to “touch and enlarge the planets, learn facts about the universe and complete a scavenger hunt.” Mrs. Konuma adds, “They were able to interact with the content by moving around and getting closer to it. This AR experience enhances complex and abstract topics that text and photos simply cannot.”
 
In seventh grade life science, teacher Jessica Dossey used Merge Cubes to allow students to explore the human body. Students who used the Merge Cubes said it was interesting being able to see where the organs were in the body. For example, they could click on the stomach and rotate the Merge Cube to see the surrounding organs. 

We can’t wait to see what our students will explore next!
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