Educational Trends

Oh, the Possibilities with Chrome Experiments!

Written by Lori Gracey

I was playing around the other day and wandered across the Chrome Experiments website. The next time I looked up, four hours had passed. That’s how unbelievable this site is.

What Is It?

Chrome Experiments is an open-source project started by Google in 2009 to showcase web-based technologies like JavaScript, HTML5, WebGL, Canvas, and more. It’s now become an open source community where developers can submit their own projects. While all of that is great, what makes it so amazing, at least to me, is the fact that just a few years ago, we would have had to have separate software pieces for each of these experiments. Today, they can all be run in the same Chrome browser software that we use to search the web and do email.

The experiments are available to everyone. There are more than 100 projects, with more being added every day. You can filter them by date, popularity, and technology, which makes it easy to get lost in the sheer wonder of what smart people can do with innovative technology.

What Makes Chrome Experiments So Amazing?

Past experiments that have gone on to have a life of their own and that you may have heard about or used yourself include the Zygote Body, a detailed 3D model of the human body; Google Gravity, where what goes up must come down; Chrome Music Lab, which is a wonderful way for children to learn all about music (a site that I liked so much I wrote a separate blog about it); and Browser Talk, where your browser takes on a persona and talks to you. But they are eclipsed by some of the new creations coming out of the site. I’ll share just a few of my favorites with you:

  • 100,000 Stars shows you the real location of nearby stars. You can zoom in and out and see some pretty neat visualizations of space and distance. The music playing in the background is also great.
  • Typatone creates music while you type. Once you’re done typing, it puts the notes selected by your keystrokes into a beautiful song. (I must confess to playing with this one for a long time!) Downloading a song costs $0.99. But you can embed the song into a website at no charge.
  • WebGL Water Simulation allows you to play with the properties of water. You can cause ripples and waves, move a sphere in and out, and much more. I found this so fascinating that it led me to doing research on how waves function. A similar experiment is Fluid Particles.
  • Ancient Earth provides a way of looking at how the physical features of the Earth have changed over millions of years. The site includes a ton of information about each age and makes it easy to jump to different time periods or events, like the first coral reefs or dinosaurs. This experiment really helped me better understand the evolution of the Earth over time, making a complex subject simpler.
  • Inspirograph is just like the old toy that I played with as a child. Using different sized gears, you can create wonderful artwork.
  • Webcam Toy has more than 70 filters that you can apply to photos you take with your webcam. I can easily see this being used by students to create avatars of themselves or just to express mood for a particular piece of writing.
  • GeoGuesser is a geography and deduction game for one or multiple players. It shows you a photo from Google Maps and asks you to guess its location. You are awarded points based on how close your answer is to the actual location. This would be good to get students thinking about what they see, what clues can they gather from the photo, and what conclusions can they draw.Chrome
  • And finally, there’s the Peanut Gallery. Strange as it sounds, this experiment lets you create silent film clips with your voice. Select from a set of classic film clips and then add your own voiceover, which is turned automatically into text on the screen. This was so much fun! But I can also see it being used by students to create summaries of learning, creative book trailers, and more.

Do yourself a favor and spend some time playing and learning with the Chrome Experiments. But if you do, make sure you don’t have anything scheduled for several hours.


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About the author

Lori Gracey

Lori Gracey has 28 years of experience in education, with 22 years as a curriculum and technology director. She currently serves as the executive director of the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) and is responsible for training technology directors, administrators, curriculum supervisors, and teachers across the country. During her nine years in this position, she has led TCEA in membership and revenue growth, helped to pay off their building and purchase a new, larger building, and implemented new conferences, partnerships with other associations, and professional development opportunities for members and non-members. She serves more than 17,000 members and oversees a staff of 21. Lori is also on the board of the Texas Society of Association Executives and SXSWedu and recently served as the Regional Program Chair for the ISTE 2017 Convention in San Antonio.

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