School mimics Pokémon Go to help new students adjust
One elementary school in Minnesota riffed on the wildly popular Pokémon Go app to create its own virtual reality game that helps incoming students feel more comfortable with beginning the school year in an unfamiliar building.
Principal Brad Gustafson of Greenwood Elementary School in the Wayzata Public Schools created an exercise—named Grizz-e-mon after the school’s grizzly bear mascot—to help new students engage during the tour of the school.
Pokémon Go displays characters on an iPhone or Android device screen, superimposed on the camera veiw of the user’s environment and a user attempts to catch them by holding a ball located at the bottom of the screen and releasing it toward the character.
Downloading the app Aurasma creates an augmented reality on devices that makes objects appear like Pokémon. At Greenwood, students search for the locations of more than 10 eggs hidden throughout the school near designated tour stops, to free different animals inside by pointing their phones at the eggs.
The photo of the egg determines what animal emerges on the child’s screen. For example, a shark appeared from an egg floating on the ocean, and a giraffe’s head appeared poking out of the top of an egg.
The school conducts tours year-round to introduce the facility to prospective students and parents. “We had one tour where I knew the student was nervous to come in the building,” says Gustafson. “By the end of the tour he was leading others around; it’s been neat to see kids come out of their shell like that.”
Pros and cons
Educators across the nation are exploring the positive and negative affects Pokémon Go may have in the classroom.
As the school year begins, teachers are brainstorming lesson ideas on blogs. Geography and history students can perform projects studying the background of many local sights using PokéStops as landmarks; math assignments capture the complexity of how each Pokémon gets stronger.
Some public schools are designated PokéStops or Pokémon Go Gyms, locations where players can gather virtual supplies or fight with their own Pokémon against other users.
Greenville County Schools in South Carolina sent instructions to each school’s administrators on how to remove their facility as a PokéStop, out of security concerns of guests showing up on the property during school hours.