An Educator’s Guide to Augment Learning with Merge Cube
Along with Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality is quickly becoming popular in the classroom. One of the most popular AR experiences right now is the Merge Cube. With a recent hot dollar deal on the Merge Cube at local Walmarts, many teachers caught the craze and bought out entire stocks of this amazing AR tool! But now what? What do you do with all those Merge Cubes in your possession and how can they be useful in the classroom? Let’s dig a little deeper and find out!
What’s in this blog post?
- What is a Merge Cube?
- What’s with the recent Merge Cube buying frenzy?
- Photo slideshow & list of apps for the Merge Cube
- A FREE “Augment Learning with Merge Cube” printable poster!
- Classroom integration ideas for the Merge Cube
- How to setup Merge Cubes in your classroom
- External links for Merge Cube
- Updates will be added to this post as new information and apps are released!
What is a Merge Cube?
The Merge Cube is described by it’s developer as “The hologram you hold in your hand.” It’s a foam cube with different designs on each side. When held in front of your device’s camera while using a variety of Merge Cube apps the cube is transformed into digital 3D objects and scenes. You can move and rotate the cube in your hand to see things from different angles. It’s a truly amazing experience!
The Recent Merge Cube Buying Frenzy!
On February 10, Brian Costello, one of the members of the Voxer ARVRinEDU Group, mentioned that he got a few Merge Cubes at his local Walmart for $5.00 each. That was practically a steal from it’s usual price of $15.00. I hurried over to my own Walmart and found the same great deal so I bought 4, then I rushed over to another nearby Walmart and bought 6 more! A couple of days later, Brian found them at a much lower price of $1.00! ONE DOLLAR for a Merge Cube was the deal of a life time and thus began the Merge Cube Buying Frenzy! My Facebook, Voxer group, and Twitter feeds were blowing up with fellow educators raiding their local Walmarts and buying them out. One teacher found 130 Merge Cubes and bought them all! See below for a slideshow of teachers showing off their Merge Cube stashes.
Teachers love a great deal! If you want to see what’s available in your area visit this inventory checker site. We definitely can’t resist when something drops from $15.00 to $1.00 even if we’re not quite sure what a Merge Cube does or how we might use it in the classroom. Well, I’ve a got few ideas after exploring the apps that are available!
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Apps for the Merge Cube
Check out these screenshots from a variety of apps currently available for the Merge Cube on iOS.
Apps available for Merge Cube on iOS:
- TH!NGS for Merge Cube (F)
- Dig! for Merge Cube (F)
- Tiltball for Merge Cube (F)
- Snake Attack for Merge Cube (F)
- AnatomyAR+ for Merge Cube ($)
- Defused! for Merge Cube (F)
- Galactic Explorer / Merge Cube (F)
- myARquarium for Merge Cube (F)
- Party Games for Merge Cube (F)
- Mr. Body for Merge Cube (F)
- CubePaintAR (F & $)
- DinoDigger for Merge Cube ($)
- 57° North for Merge Cube ($)
- CyberCube for Merge Cube ($)
- AR Kitten for Merge Cube ($)
- Invasion for Merge Cube ($)
- Cube Conquest for Merge Cube ($)
- Zombie Annihilation for Merge Cube ($)
- BlockAR for Merge Cube ($)
- Hangry Herb for Merge Cube ($)
- Ask Kranky for Merge Cube ($)
- Nexus Box for Merge Cube ($)
- Tricky Temple ($)
- Moment AR ($)
- Mystical Moon for Merge Cube ($)
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Bring Augmented Reality into your Students Hands!
Here are some preliminary ideas for using the Merge Cube in the classroom:
- Galactic Explorer is a great introduction to our solar system! Students can hold and rotate the solar system in their hands while exploring the planets (including Pluto!) and examining and questioning things like rotation, revolution, planet atmospheres, moons, rings and more. Have students share their discoveries and questions using the built in Record feature then share their videos with the rest of the class, experts in the field, and the world!
- Mr. Body would be a great addition to any health or physical education class! This app is a gentle and simply way to help students learn basic facts about the brain, heart, lungs, liver, stomach, kidneys, pancreas, small and large intestines, and the bladder. This app also has the Record feature built in and would be a perfect tool for capturing learning and questions that can be shared through video.
- Moment AR by Color Black Moment is a social skills training tool meant for psychologists, therapists, counselors, and other specialists to help support students with identifying feelings, emotions, and social interaction. The app based tool is supported by research. They also have some great ideas for activities with the app and the Merge Cube but I think this tool might also be useful in a language learning class! Students can describe the emotions, colors, characters, actions, and social scenarios while speaking in their practicing language.
- AnatomyAR+ is another great tool for a health or physical education class with much more detailed graphics, labels, and descriptions. It even includes a beating heart! Students can hold in their hand a real-looking and accurate heart, brain, limbic system, basal nuclei, and lungs.
- TH!NGS was one of the first apps produce by Merge and offers a collection of different activities. One of them is called Holo Body which provides you with a 3D heart and skull with labeled parts. There is also a simple Slot Machine. Could students calculate the probabilities of triple 7s? Let students explore creative writing by pairing them with the Pokeminion, Octopet, and Pirate Island activities. Each activity in TH!NGS also includes the Record feature! Students can write a story or create a play with their peers and act it out in a recording.
- 57° North is one of my most favorite Merge Cube apps! It’s an amazing 3D choose-your-own-adventure that includes hundreds of decisions and multiple endings. It was created by Mighty Coconut. What kind of book study might you be able to do with students using a 3D AR story?
- There are also many Merge Cube puzzle games that would be fun for students to explore during morning routine, recess, and when they finish early with class work. Check out apps like Rubik’s Cube, Tiltball, Party Games, and Snake Attack. One game, Dig, has been described as being able to play Minecraft in the palm of your hand.
- Develop Apps for Merge Cube! Merge offers their Developer Kit and SDK through their Developer Program. They mentioned on Twitter that they’ve used Unity and Vuforia to create Merge Cubes app. There is so much untapped opportunity with Merge Cube. Wouldn’t it be awesome if your students were the developers of the next round of amazing apps? You can learn more about the Merge Cube Developer Program.
How are you using Merge Cube in your classroom?
Share in the comments below!
Setup Merge Cubes for your Classroom
The retail Merge Cube package comes with several useful items:
- Merge Cube!
- Cube case and stand (so you can display it proudly on your desk!)
- Mobile device stand (extremely useful!)
- 2 Merge stickers (Swag for students & teachers!)
When you set up a Merge Cube for the first time on your device you will need to use the Activation Code provided inside the Cube Stand and you will need to sign up for a Merge account with an email address.
If you are working with students under the age of 13, or if you plan on using your set of Merge Cubes with lots of students in a school or district, I highly recommend using a generic school email account (i.e. email@example.com) for your Merge account. Then moving forward use that one email address to log in to Merge apps on devices that you will use with students.
A Merge account is used to save your games and high scores and, as far as I can tell, doesn’t collect any other personally identifiable information.
There are 8 steps when setting up your Merge Cube and Merge account for the first time.
You only need to run through these 8 steps one time on a single device with your first Merge Cube and you technically only need one Activation Code to set this up. Once you’ve gone through this process once in an app all you have to do in the rest of the apps and other devices is SIGN IN with your Merge account and you are good to go.
External Links for Merge Cube
- VR Scout: How Merge is Building an XR Ecosystem for Kids
- Merge Health & Safety Information
- @MsJWhiting: Why Merge Cubes are only a $1 at Walmart
- Compatible Devices for Merge Cube
- YouTube video: IT WORKED: Merge Cube AR for the Classroom!
- Wired: How Augmented Reality is Shaping the Future of Play
Interested in exploring Virtual and Augmented Reality in Education further? Join the #ARVRinEDU Twitter chat! It’s every Wednesday at 6PM Pacific | 8PM Central | 9PM Eastern | 4 pm Hawaii!