Top technology makes learning a Virtual Reality for Peterborough school

Pupils trying on the headsets
Pupils trying on the headsets
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Young children at a city school are going back to the future by using exciting new technology to enhance their education.

The pupils at Dogsthorpe Infant School in Central Avenue can roam in a South American rainforest, explore Australia’s Great Barrier Reef or experience fairy tale castles thanks to the wonders of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) which are being utilised inside a new learning bus parked at the school.

Gary Perkins and Sally Atkinson from PCC with headteacher Becky Waters and Lisa Alexander from City College Peterborough at the presentation of books to pupils at Dogsthorpe Infant School. EMN-180911-174054009

Gary Perkins and Sally Atkinson from PCC with headteacher Becky Waters and Lisa Alexander from City College Peterborough at the presentation of books to pupils at Dogsthorpe Infant School. EMN-180911-174054009

VR enables the children to explore virtual worlds on their new class headsets, while AR sees the children use what are known as Merge Cubes. These are physical items which allow the children to see castles, pirate ships or even a shark swimming in 3D in the palm of their hands.

Vice chair of governors Alastair Kingsley believes the technology allows the youngsters to learn the curriculum in a fun and imaginative way.

He said: “Greys of Ely donated us an old coach. We wanted to create a different space - something inspiring for smaller children.

“My background is in technology so we decided to create a space that is focused around AR and VR so the children could experience different environments in a way they could not normally do.

Pupils inside the bus

Pupils inside the bus

“They can look at animals in 3D swimming around. Younger children can see a virtual person and understand the anatomy.

“They can put on the VR headsets and be in a rainforest in Belize. It will hopefully give them awareness of different places around the world.

“Lots of the latest technology is seen as being the domain of secondary schools. We are trying to prove you can never be too young to be immersed.

“The best way to learn is through play and experience. This is something as a governing body we wanted to support.”

Children, staff, senior education officers at Peterborough City Council and Father Christmas outside the bus

Children, staff, senior education officers at Peterborough City Council and Father Christmas outside the bus

Constraints on school funding features regularly in the news, but Alastair said it was not necessary to blow the budget to get hold of some of the new technology.

He added: “The reality is a great deal of technology is not costly. The only expensive bit of the project was the class VR headset which was around £1,000, but for the benefit of three age groups it’s a really good investment.”

Meanwhile, Year Two children at the school were recently handed a National Literacy Trust toolkit from Peterborough City College.

The toolkit, which contained 50 books and reading materials, was part of the Peterborough Vision for Reading project, a scheme run by the trust, city college, Peterborough City Council and Vivacity to encourage reading in city schools.

Pupils outside the bus

Pupils outside the bus

Delighted school head teacher Becky Walters said: “We promote reading at every opportunity including running a reading cafe, book buzz parent sessions, and give gifts of books whenever we can.”