students on the sofa

Transporting through Time and Space

The stage was set, an air of anticipation and curiosity filled the Piazza as the reception and year 1 students explored the space, their eyes widening with wonder at the unfamiliar objects scattered around. They were quick to guess at the purpose of the blue objects:

“They’re like little tables and little cars.”
“They are almost the same size as my shoe.”

Their excitement grew palpable as Dan, their guide for the session, instructed them to sit behind a headset and explained the wonders of virtual reality. With a background in professional dance, Dan exuded an aura of energy and enthusiasm, instantly capturing the young children’s attention.

“Is this everybody? Good morning, everybody! I am here to do a special workshop with you on Virtual Reality. When we put these on like binoculars, you will see something different. It can take you anywhere – into space, back in history or today, we’re going to shrink down and see some bugs.”

With great care, Dan demonstrated how to handle the headsets, emphasising the need to use two hands and avoid pressing certain buttons that might disrupt the program. Despite their eagerness and youth, the children listened attentively, absorbing every instruction.

Then, the moment arrived. As they raised the headsets to their eyes, their surroundings transformed, transporting them into a miniature world teeming with life. The students told Dan the names of all the mini beasts they know and love including cockroaches, centipedes, ladybirds, butterflies, and even giant tarantulas and black widow spiders. As they marvelled at the sight of the mini beats surrounding them, each module lasted less than five minutes, allowing the children to explore different aspects of these fascinating creatures.

The 4 to 6 year olds marvelled at the sights and sounds as each of the 6 modules revealed fascinating facts combined with an immersive virtual visual experience. Delving into the diversity of mini-beasts, showcasing their various shapes, sizes, and habitats. The children reached out tentatively, their fingers grazing the virtual creatures as they absorbed every detail. Listening intently, their imaginations ignited by the wonders of the natural world.

The pace shifted, in a simulated encounter between a predator, a bird, and prey, a ladybird showcasing the ladybird’s defence mechanisms in action. The children gasped in awe as they witnessed nature’s ingenuity unfold before their eyes.

Between modules the children were playfully quizzed on their newfound knowledge, the children eagerly responded, demonstrating their understanding of insects, arachnids, and other mini beasts. Their enthusiasm was infectious, fuelling their thirst for knowledge and discovery.

As the children bid farewell to the virtual world, their minds abuzz with newfound knowledge, they couldn’t help but marvel at the wonders they had encountered.

Above and around them, the secondary students moved quietly and swiftly between lessons, peering over the balcony to catch glimpses of the excitement below. Their curiosity piqued, they observed the younger children’s immersive journey with interest, perhaps reminiscing about their own experiences with VR.

The morning continued with an exciting journey through the ancient world as the year 3, 4, and 5 students delved into the mysteries of Ancient Greece as they embarked on an exploration of the rich history and culture of this fascinating civilisation.

Split into teams, the students engaged in a friendly competition to test their knowledge. The blue team delved into topics like cities named after Alexander the Great, the Parthenon in Athens, and the theory of heliocentrism. Meanwhile, the red team explored the different types of columns in temples, the population of Athens, and the contributions of mathematicians like Pythagoras.

As the session progressed, the children discovered the inventions and achievements of the ancient Greeks, from catapults and robots to the concept of pi. They marvelled at the stories of Archimedes, the father of mathematics, and pondered over the heliocentric theory proposed by Copernicus.

Transitioning seamlessly, the students were transported to the world of the Olympic Games, learning about its ancient origins and modern-day significance. They were fascinated by the history of the games and the symbolism behind the iconic five rings.

While some students from other classes quietly observed, Taff, with her bright pink Doc Martins, watched with a smile as the children interacted with the VR. Meanwhile, Ellie who had organised the sessions, felt a sense of relief and satisfaction knowing that the students were thoroughly enjoying this innovative educational experience.

After a brief break, the students returned to explore the wonders of space, venturing across the solar system and learning about planets like Mercury, Venus, and Mars. They marvelled at the mysteries of the universe, eagerly answering questions and engaging in discussions.

In the final module, the students embarked on a journey through the entire solar system, marvelling at its vastness and complexity. They eagerly participated in quizzes and discussions, demonstrating their newfound knowledge and enthusiasm for learning.

Overall, the VR workshop provided an immersive and engaging educational experience, allowing students ranging in age from 4 to 10 to explore the microscopic world of mini beasts, the wonders of Ancient Greece and the mysteries of space in a fun and interactive way. They embarked on a journey of discovery, sparking their curiosity and igniting their passion for learning. Reflecting afterward, the older students commented on how much easier and more interesting having this immersive experience had made them feel to the topics helping them to recall and contextualise their learning.