Taking school children beyond their horizon

Last Friday, 17th June, Propellernet and immersive technology partner yellowBird took a class of children from Moulsecoomb Primary School on a country-hopping tour from Brighton to Brazil with the UK’s first ever virtual reality lesson outside of the classroom. The event coincided with National Empty Classroom Day.

Arriving by coach and braving a typically rain swept British summer afternoon,  the 22 Year 1 children and their teachers arrived on the beach by West Pier and were handed Google cardboard VR headsets. Having learnt about ‘horizons’ on the journey to the beach, the kids excitedly lined up to gaze through the headsets and out towards the sea. They were not quite expecting what came next.

As they looked though their headsets, the 360 video (playing via iPhones secured into the back of the headsets) transported them from Brighton beach to a rooftop view of the Parisian skyline, a Dutch meadow surrounded by cows, the top of Mont Blanc, a desert island in Southeast Asia, the Great Barrier Reef and finally onto Rio de Janeiro in Brazil (a country the children are learning about in the lead up to the Olympic Games). The transition between each country gave the feeling of flying through the clouds.

The reactions from the children were a joy to watch with one pupil exclaiming “this is the most amazing thing I have ever seen!” and another describing the experience as “the coolest school trip ever!”. The children were still talking about the things they had seen and the countries they had ‘visited’ as they got back onto the coach clutching their (now slightly soggy) cardboard headsets which they were given to take away with them to show their parents/carers (the content is available exclusively for the class via the free yellowBird Surround Video app).

The idea of taking the children ‘beyond their horizon’ was inspired by the shocking statistics around the number of children and young people in Brighton and Hove that have never visited the beach.

Nikki Gatenby, Propellernet MD:

“We have a high rate of children in need in Brighton, yet it is home to some really inspiring people in the digital industry with access to fantastic resources.
“We also have anecdotal evidence that there are many children in the city who have never been taken to the seaside despite living moments from the beach – we want to change that and engage children in this magical city, but also broaden their horizons and take a journey further afield. Partnering with yellowBird gives us a real opportunity to both excite and educate the schoolchildren of Moulsecoomb in what will be a first for this country.”

The initiative was Propellernet’s first project with yellowBird and we are very excited to be collaborating with the pioneering virtual reality experts who share many of our own values and ambition to create purposeful business for our clients. Yellowbird’s client roster includes world famous brands such as IKEA, Topman, Google, Visa, Samsung and CocaCola.  And they are committed to creating and delivering purposeful ideas that improve lives. Past initiatives in the Netherlands have included transporting a young burns patient back to school from his hospital bed and working with De Meander elementary schoolchildren to create their own Virtual Reality history lesson of the Dutch Stone Age.

Watch Latest TV’s report here.

All photography by James Gilham, Sting Media.

By Mark Slade

22 June 2016