Diving to the depths of the Ocean with the National Marine Aquarium and ClassVR
National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth
DISCOVERING MARINE LIFE WITH VIRTUAL REALITY
The National Marine Aquarium is the largest public aquarium in the UK, welcoming 300,000 visitors per year, including 30,000 school children who participate in our award-winning learning programme. For over twenty years, we have forged a reputation for excellence in informal education. We deliver fun, interactive learning experiences outside the classroom, and are continuously looking for new exciting ways to develop our schools’ programme.
Technology in the classroom is becoming more and more predominant, and there are many benefits to using it in everyday lessons. Technologies such as virtual reality can help provide an alternative method to paper-based learning, allowing for differentiation between learners and establishing a physical connection to sometimes difficult or unusual concepts. In order to keep up with advancing educational technologies, we decided to make a virtual reality experience to enable us to bring the ocean to life in any classroom across the country. As part of our National Schools’ Outreach Programme, we wanted to encapsulate the mystery and wonder of the ocean and to encourage and inspire people to further their knowledge.
VISIT THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN
We decided to launch our virtual reality series with a trip to the bottom of the ocean – the abyss. The deep sea is the remotest, least explored ecosystem on the planet, so what better way to engage students than with this mysterious and exciting habitat. Working with Hammerhead VR, we wrote and developed a script that would enable students to travel in a submarine down to about 850 metres below the surface of the ocean covering many different curriculum topics. During this journey, various deep-sea dwelling animals are visible including the Atolla (Burglar Alarm) jellyfish, an angler fish, and finally the infamous battle between the giant squid and a sperm whale.
The finished VR film is fantastic – you are right in the middle of the action, and students feel fully immersed in the marine environment. However, there is a clear and strong educational thread running through the VR film, covering many curriculum topics within all of sciences, literacy, geography and maths.
We chose the ClassVR headsets as following lots of research we discovered that they are amongst the only headsets available that allow you to control the experience for the whole class altogether. This means that students are watching the film at the same time, allowing them to share the experience. ClassVR also allows you to pause at key points, pointing out certain interesting parts, and to fully control and oversee the experience for every student in the class at the same time.
The NMA’s mission is ‘to connect us with our oceans’, and thanks to the ClassVR we can now target a much wider audience and inspire them to learn more about the depths of the ocean.
“ClassVR has been a fantastic addition to our schools’ programme. It allows us to take whole classes of children to places we just can’t in the real world. They can experience and learn together in a whole new way!
Stu Higgs,Schools Programme Manager