A leading digital learning company has launched a cutting-edge, no cost app in a bid to unlock the power of augmented reality (AR) for educators.

Discovery Education’s new platform allows users to create virtual worlds and populate them with objects from history, the built world, science and nature – all on an iPad.

According to the edtech firm, AR heightens student engagement and improves learners’ ability to retain knowledge.

By superimposing virtual images and data on a user’s view of the real world, it “supports visualisation of complex topics” and creates “digital ‘hands-on’ learning opportunities”.

The ‘Sandbox AR’ app also allows users to take photos or record a video walkthrough with their own voice over, as well as offering a mode that allows them to scale up and inhabit their own life-size virtual environments.

The app comes as Discovery Education celebrates two decades in business.

Howard Lewis, Discovery Education’s managing director, global initiatives, said: “For over 20 years Discovery Education has provided innovative digital learning solutions to educators worldwide, and 2021 marked the start of a new chapter in the company’s history.

“In 2021, we built on the extensive library of educational videos that educators know and love us for and added new time-saving tools and resources providing all learners with more ways to use our engaging content and dynamic platform every day.

“Sandbox AR and resources we make available to educators today are just the beginning of what will be a number of powerful new resources Discovery Education plans to provide students and educators in 2022 and beyond.”

For those new to AR, Sandbox AR includes pre-built sandboxes exploring diverse subjects such as ancient Egypt, space exploration, Mayan civilisation and road construction.

Discovery Education is also making available several free, pre-built lessons, which educators can use with the app to familiarise themselves with integrating AR into classroom instruction.

The Sandbox AR iPad app is available in the Apple App Store.