Saturday, November 5, 2016

Pop Up Thinglab 18 Make:Shift:Do Virtual Reality

Family DIY Virtual reality at the CCS Libraries inspireNshare Make Shift Do

Pop Up Thinglab 18 was an inspireNshare virtual reality workshop and travel agency as part of the UK Craft Council Make:Shift:Do event at Croydon Library. It was a hands on and heads on introduction to  the role of libraries in the future and virtual Reality with simple, friendly, accessible and cost effective "citizen tech”. It was an opportunity to see yourself in virtual reality and make and take away your own virtual reality viewer.

One of the wonderful things about libraries is that they welcome everyone - they have no minimal entry level requirements, testing, measurement or grading. Our workshop and hands on session in Croydon central library had all ages, abilities and backgrounds and it was wonderful to see everyone learning together.

Library Learning: all ages, abilities and backgrounds can learn together  
The workshop started "heads on" where we covered the development of virtual reality, a simple technical explanation of how it works and the current state of virtual reality with a description of products, platforms, prices and capabilities. The second part of the workshop was "hands on" where we made Google Cardboard virtual reality viewers to use with our smartphones to see virtual reality. It was a real pleasure to see children help their parents to make the DIY headsets and to describe and talk about virtual reality with them.

DIY Virtual reality ... Making virtual reality viewers 
At the end of the workshop we opened the doors for a "virtual reality travel agency" where we we took roller coaster rides, travelled the world, visited space and faced our fears with a variety of virtual reality viewers.

Going places in your local library with virtual reality

We talked about how virtual reality can be used to provide new learning and entertainment opportunities through first person perspectives. Getting into space is an expensive and difficult endeavour but virtual reality can get you there with a first person perspective relatively easily and cheaply. We spoke about virtual reality entertainment and education trips into space and how NASA use virtual reality to train astronauts especially to prepare for emergency situation and operations outside the space station. We spoke about how Tim Peak had been through virtual reality simulations of the manual docking manoeuvre with the international space station - something that had to be done on his real mission to space although one of the other astronauts carried out the manual docking on that occasion.

One of the adults was an engineer and told me how hid company used virtual reality to model engineering plant before construction and to train engineers in service and maintenance operations.

We had conversations about how the first person perspective of virtual reality can help you see and hopefully understand the world from different perspectives by "walking in someone else's shoes". We spoke about how virtual reality can develop empathy and about how the United Nations is using Virtual reality to raise awareness about vulnerable communitiesWe spoke about how it would be useful for decision makers to use virtual reality to understand the different perspectives before and after a decision - people thought it would be most useful for politicians in particular to have a first person perspective on the consequences of the decisions they make. Politicians were seen as being too remote and removed from the reality of everyday life and that virtual reality could help bring them closer to reality.

We spoke about how virtual reality can be used in education to bring new experiences into teaching and learning. I mentioned Donald Clark's video on how virtual reality can bring experiential learning into physics and astronomy - for example getting the sense of how physics operates in the zero gravity environment of the space station. We also talked about how new perspectives through virtual reality could give people a better understanding of certain topics - using virtual reality to take a "Fantastic Voyage" through the human body, the solar system or see chemical reactions at the molecular level first hand! 

We finished our hands on session by putting ourselves in the picture by taking and viewing virtual reality selfies - its something that always helps to bring home the reality of virtual reality.

 Family learning 360\virtual reality selfie

Pop Up Thinglab 18 combined craft and technology -  Sara Brouwer from the UK Crafts Council summed it up perfectly 

Cardboard paper craft + smart phone = a brand new VR headset & world travel! ✨👓📲🌎 Super family workshop by for

Thank you to 
CCS Libraries for their support
The Crafts Council UK for their support
Ultimaker for the loan of an Ultimaker 2 3D printer
Filamentive for a sample selection of recycled filaments

For more images of Pop Up Thinglab 18 visit: Thinglab 18 images (Flickr album)

To find out more about inspireNshare visit
To find out more about inspireNshare Thinglab visit
For my bookmarks on 3D printing visit
For the inspireNshare Thingiverse collection visit 

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