|Our virtual realities workshop inside the amazing Wanstead children's library|
Pop up Thinglab 36 was a virtual realities workshop for children to learn about experience and make holograms, augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality. It was a fun practical introduction to virtual realities where children could make their own hologram viewer, make augmented reality images, see themselves in virtual reality and play an augmented reality instrument.
We started of with an introduction to virtual realities - from the optical illusions of Peppers Ghost in Victorian theatres through the different ways it has been used in the media to the many forms we find among us today.
We weren't at school so the children asked questions and talked about what we were doing all the time - this is informal education and we were free to go wherever the the young people wanted. We talked about robots, artificial intelligence, the future of work and even the nature of reality ... learning is natural for children - they love to engage in learning and love to learn anytime and anyplace they can. Informal natural learning is indistinguishable from play and children play like scientists work ... curious and always asking so many questions.
We talked a lot about the nature of technology and about the future .. while the children clearly understood the dangers of technology they were very positive and optimistic about the future. The children understood how technology can go wrong, how it can be used by bad people and the problems of becoming dependent on it - most of all they were worried about becoming lazy and not thinking for themselves. Children's positivity and optimism about the future comes from playing like scientists work and thinking like scientists - although they said there would be problems in the future they believed they could be overcome and solved if we worked at it.
"Everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal
"Anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it"
~ Douglas Adams
Children are so comfortable with technology - its either natural, taken for granted and not considered technology at all or its new and incredibly exciting. The children were so tuned into technology but this doesn't come from school ... they learn about things on-line (especially Youtube), on TV, in libraries, in museums, at home, at technology events and even in shopping centres. The children didn't seem to expect their school to use technology or teach them with or about it and they weren't at all bothered about this. We spoke about smartphones .. how, in the palm of your hand you could have access to "all the world's information" and all the capabilities that they have but how their is no place for them in their schools. The children weren't concerned about this ... they accepted the way things are and how they learned at school and even argued that it is also good to be able to use your own brain and memory and think for yourself rather than become dependent of looking things up on-line.
We moved on to hands on practical activities - making and using simple and cost effective technologies that we can all get access to.
We started out by making DIY holograms viewers using a template to trace an outline onto small sheets of plastic, cutting and folding them to make a volumetric display that can be used with smartphones and for better viewing in the bright library we made a small theatre from a cardboard box.
|Busy marking out and cutting our holographic viewers|
|Lifting the cloak of reality ... looking at our DIY holograms|
|Creating augmented reality cartoons|
|Bringing cartoons to life with augmented reality|
Our next activity was to put ourselves in virtual reality - using a 360 camera and some warm up activities to have fun, get familiar with this new form of media and see ourselves in virtual reality. While many children have used virtual reality few have used a 360 camera and seen themselves in virtual reality - looking around to find yourself is really engaging and makes the experience personal ... putting ourselves in the picture makes it relevant and helps understanding. To really give an idea of the immersive first person perspective of virtual reality I put the 360 camera down really low and asked the children to jump when the timer went off to see if we could catch ourselves in mid air. I asked the children what they thought they would look like when they saw themselves in virtual reality ... it was an exercise in empathy - trying to think about another point of view and then experiencing it for yourself. In this case the children had to imagine what the scene would look like from the 360 camera near the ground ... some of them got close but it was only when they saw the scene in virtual reality did they appreciate the point of view from the little camera near the ground .. "wow .. we look like giants". It was quite an experience for the children to see themselves as very big!
|We are giants ... flat image from 360\VR image at https://flic.kr/p/23V8a7a|
|We are giants .. seeing yourself as a giant in virtual reality|
|Playing a mixed reality xylophone|
“Play is the highest form of research”
~ Albert Einstein
"The best scientists and explorers have the attributes of kids! They ask question and have a sense of wonder. They have curiosity."
~ Sylvia Earle
"I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these 'how' and 'why' questions. Occasionally, I find an answer."
~ Stephen Hawking
~ Stephen Hawking
Pop up Thinglab 36 showed that with a curious, playful and active maker mindset we can be optimistic about technology and the future ... we don't just have to be passive consumers of technology but can be active participants in it. Our inspireNshare Thinglabs are learning in the youth zone - using "Citizen Tech" and technology as "the science of craft" to let Children Play Like Scientists Work - its all part of the fun - its an essential ingredient of learning.
inspireNshare are passionate about peer learning and specialise in facilitating mutual co-created peer learning projects through sharing. Our projects focus on "Citizen Tech" using cost effective, free, open, easy technologies and social media. With our projects everyone is both a learner and a teacher.
See more photos from Pop Up Thinglab 36 here
To find out more about inspireNshare visit http://inspirenshare.com
To find out more about inspirenshare Pop Up Thinglabs visit