Using MERGE Cubes for Education: Interactive Augmented Reality Holograms

Merge Cubes are a simple yet powerful way to make augmented reality accessible — and handheld — for the classroom. They are foam cubes that you can get from Amazon for about $15. Each side of the cube has a unique QR-code like pattern, allowing it to interact with various educational activities, games and other sorts of holograms.

In this way, it’s a STEM toy that allows kids to have hands-on experiences on on math, science, anatomy, engineering and other subjects.

A foam cube becomes an interactive hologram-based learning tool.

Experiences to Try

Merge has its own collection of activity plans for the classroom. Some of our favorites include:

  • Galactic Explorer (FREE). Hold the Solar System in your hands and explore various planets.
  • 3D Museum Viewer (FREE). Hold ancient artifacts and famous sculptures from museums as 3D holograms, including the Ram of Amun or the bust of Marcus Aurelius.

Thanks to Jaime Donally, you can also print your own MERGE Cube, including larger sizes that can be useful for a teacher to use for a bigger classroom demo.

Creating Experiences for the Merge Cube

It’s easy for you (or your students) to create interesting interactive holograms with the MERGE cube. We recommend the following methods:

Using CoSpaces Edu

CoSpaces Edu, a VR/AR creation tool by DelightEx, has launched a feature in which you can use a simple drag and drop interface to create MERGE cube experiences. This is an add on that isn’t free, but it’s well worth it for being able to create AR experiences quickly.

I teach game design and educational technology courses at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. You can reach me at GAMES at tc dot columbia dot edu.