Norfolk Community Primary School is located in the inner-city, and serves children aged 5-11. The project was conducted with 2 classes of 7 and 8 year olds, and was focused on the theme of ‘playspaces’.
The project involved staff from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield, Bryony Olney and Bobby Nisha who worked alongside Laura Page, an artist from the community arts organisation Ignite Imaginations.
The project focused on the development of imaginary playscapes. As the study was led by urban planners, a key focus was on the potential use of space in the community. Through making, the team hoped to enable the children to reflect on spaces for play in their community, and to use these reflections as a stimulus for imaginative and creative work in which they developed their own playspaces in Virtual Reality.
The children first captured favourite playspaces in the neighbourhood using a tablet camera (see Figure 1).
Following this process, the images were printed out and the children used them to create collages, in which they noted what they liked about their community playspaces (see Figure 2).
Children were then able to create models of objects to be included in imagined playspaces using clay and other materials (see Figure 3).
The children moved on to use the app Qlone on a tablet to create a 3D digital image of the 2D physical model (see Figure 4).
The next step involved children donning a headset, then using the HTC Vive equipment with a laptop to create Virtual Reality playworlds (see Figure 5).
The virtual models of the clay objects were imported into the Google Virtual Reality app ‘Tilt Brush’ by an adult, and then the children could create an imaginary playscape around it (see Figure 6).
The children loved the VR experience. One child, recounting her own experience of this process, exclaimed, “I saw heaven!”
Finally, the children visited the project exhibition in Sheffield Winter Gardens in June 2018 (see Figure 6), which enabled them to celebrate their work.
The project was very successful, and children developed a range of skills not only in relation to new technologies such as Virtual Reality, but also in art, geography, communication and language.