Getting the gang back together
Full STEAM ahead.
The team is back together! Laura has been taking the lead on the Architecture in VR project – and really incorporating it into the A Level Product Design curriculum. Peter has been rewriting some self-guided worksheets for families to explore the forces curriculum using the Apollo 11 VR app. Joe has begun the difficult process of converting the Projectile Motion game to a web based application (far in excess of the initial project requirements). And finally, Jed has been running around like a mad hatter linking it all together – including repurposing a “mobile VR” kit for use with the architectural project. The project has really evolved to be a full Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) project.
Architecture in VR
Last week the year twelve Product Design students had an introduction to the CAD/VR project we are collaborating on as part of the Rolls Royce School’s Prize for Science and Technology. The brief they have been given is to redesign a bus stop for a particular area. The aim of this project is to introduce them to architectural modelling and scale, build on CAD skills and consider sustainable ways of producing iterative prototypes.
Each student has gone out on a site visit to look at an existing bus stop they would like to redesign. Some are choosing to focus on including key features of the local area, like an art deco tube station, whilst others are thinking about how safe users feel and improving lighting.
This project is a really useful opportunity to cover a lot of areas of the curriculum for us. It gives students the chance to work at 1:1 scale with their architectural models and view them at this scale to truly dig down in to how the design will function in a way that is not possible with small scale models. Working with scale is also key information they need to know for the theory exam.
From a sustainability point of view this is great for us as teachers and designers as it makes it possible to experiment with a range of materials and textures quickly and realistically without having to waste material. It also hugely speeds up the process of iterative designing so more designs can be produced and these can be much more complex in the lesson time as well as students being able to easily continue working at home.
The school was generously gifted a mobile VR experience last year – wherein students go on virtual expeditions using mobiles and VR viewers. They were not used for the initial project as they lack the full head and hand tracking required for the level of immersion we required. They are however perfect for issuing to the Y12 product design students for fast and efficient ‘quick look’ iterative design. This means we can issue all 6 of the Quests to families and use the mobile headsets for the Bus Shelter project.
In addition to this the “workflow” was thoroughly tested. I used as generic bus shelter asset I found online – along with some tweaking – to move a 3D model from SketchUp to Sketchfab for VR viewing. You can view this here – next step importing a few of this models into Mozilla Hubs for our exhibition!
Fig. 1: VR View of a bus stop on the SketchFab app on a mobile phone
The initial project used the Apollo 11 VR experience to really enhance students’ appreciation for Newton’s Laws and given them that “impossible” experience of docking in space. The worksheets used required teacher guidance with a continued focus on linking what students were experiencing to challenging contextual problems.
Unfortunately, we can’t send a teacher home to each family so have had to think carefully about how we redesign the worksheet. Instead of using it to support difficult calculations the family-guided workbook will instead look at broader ideas around people’s intuitions and false conceptions around forces – through the lens of completing the Apollo 11 missions.
In addition, we really want students to further explore the National Geographic arctic exhibition and to visit the ISS. We will do some more work on this in the coming weeks – using Teams to contact our VR group and update them on tasks we would like them to complete.
Fig. 2: Setting up equipment for the next project settings!