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The importance of teaching science remains widely acknowledged, within the context of the STEM agenda. However, research shows (Wellcome Trust, 2017) that primary teachers within the UK education system are now only managing to devote an average of 1 hour and 24 minutes per week to teaching science. Moreover, primary science remains outside the dominant markers for accountability with no requirements placed on schools for the delivery of a specific number of hours of science teaching per week.  This situation has the potential to seriously impact the depth and breadth of science being understood and considered as a future career choice. The Aspires 2 project (Archer, et al., 2020), highlights that addressing these challenges, and thereby building science capital, requires long-term changes to core pedagogical practice starting as early as possible in primary schools and is the responsibility of policymakers to focus on ‘building science capital’ at an earlier stage of a child’s education.

Novel developments in Augmented Reality (AR) technology – and the proliferating of mobile devices with built-in cameras that can put these developments in the hands of children at a comparatively low cost – have been widely lauded as offering the potential for new content and teaching practices that may address these challenges.  Huang et al., (2016) argue that AR presents opportunities to move away from lecture-style teaching and use the medium in educational environments to create practical and highly interactive visual forms of learning. Despite this growing body of previous research highlighting the rich potential of AR experiences in support of science teaching and learning, uptake in classrooms remains low. A study by Silva et al. (2019) found that although educators did recognize the potential of AR, the adoption of such technologies within mainstream schools is rare. We hypothesise that one of the key reasons for this lack of uptake is the challenge of employing AR within the constraints imposed by the day-to-day delivery of learning in real classrooms (e.g. curricula, infrastructure), as well as the potential lack of alignment between the functionality of existing AR apps and user needs. Other studies (Akcayir, Akcayir, 2017; Wang, et al., 2017; Radu, 2014; Yuen, Yaoyuneyong, Johnson, 2011), suggest educators and designers need to collaborate in terms of creating sound pedagogy to develop AR applications that maximise ‘learning outcomes’. Weerasinghe, Quigley, and Ducasse (2019) examined educational AR applications and discovered the majority of those which increased in the marketplace over the years focused on natural science areas.

This research aims to inform the design of AR experiences for primary science education that will have a higher chance of classroom adoption. We do this by exploring how primary science (Key stage 2) is currently being delivered in the UK and where both barriers and opportunities occur for adoption to integrate more meaningful AR experiences that add real value to primary science education. 

Service Design Methodology

The aim of the project is to gain a holistic insight into how AR experiences should be best integrated into contexts of primary school science teaching. Therefore, we chose to employ a Service Design approach for our investigation. Service design adopts a designer’s approach towards tackling a problem where it initially investigates the need of an end user, transitioning onto rapidly experimenting and prototyping. When we are challenged to provide better services and end-to-end customer experiences, ‘service design’ uses a pragmatic iterative approach towards developing whole new propositions particularly based on new technologies. Today, we can see AR is being used in many sectors to transform a customer's journey through unique experiences. Brown (2009) acknowledges that an everyday device is already considered a service – a mobile phone that connects us to a network of telecommunications – and the lines between product and service have become blurred. Following the four iterative steps, this study focuses on the ‘Exploration’ stage: conducting an online questionnaire, empathy mappings, classroom observations, contextual interviews, and focus groups.


(Stickdorn., M. Hormess., M., Lawrence., A. Schneider., J. (2018). This is Service Design Doing. 

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