Dr Who themed virtual learning brings science and technology to life for Bristol schools at UWE Bristol

Issue date: 14 March 2013

Bristol school students will take part in a Dr Who themed virtual learning event at UWE Bristol on 20 March, for one of the many events celebrating National Science and Engineering Week. The students will learn about astronomy, the weather, 3D modelling of car engines, the human heart and much more.

The students will visit the Education Innovation Centre (EIC) at UWE Bristol which will be decked out in a Dr Who theme. The central pillar will be dressed as the control centre of the 'tardis', there will be Dr Who cut out characters and a range of especially devised games reflecting the characters from the well loved science fiction show.

Virtual learning experts from UWE Bristol will be on hand to guide the students through a range of games and activities, including a virtual five-a-side football match between Dr Who and the Daleks.

There will be 20 equipment and computer stations around the hall.

Schools visitors will be greeted by Professor Liz Falconer and introduced to a projected female alien bot (artificial agent), who will set tasks they need to complete to be allowed to leave the hall with a 'goody bag'.

Dr Falconer explains, “We want to introduce the children, who will all be very familiar with gaming technology to the excitement of learning about science and technology through specially tailored virtual learning. The students will be asked to answer a number of questions, based upon the activities they can undertake in the hall the first letters of the answers can be rearranged into a word, which they can type into the bot interface and it will tell them if they are right or wrong.”

10 computer stations will be linked to the football match giving insights into the physics of movement. The students will see how scripted physics engines, (in this case a bouncing ball), can work in computing systems. There will be a virtual planetarium to throw light into the science of astronomy.

Meteorology and Geography will be introduced via a real time link to a local weather station and virtual simulation of weather systems.

The students will be set a real world task using less sophisticated paper, glue, scissors and pens to find out more about the characteristics of 3D shapes, before revisiting the 3D virtual exercise.

One station will be given over to a virtual reality exploration of the human heart; there will be insight into the 3D modelling of car engines and finally a virtual science park.

Dr Falconer concludes, “We really are just at the cusp of harnessing virtual world technology for teaching and learning in schools and universities, UWE Bristol is at the forefront of researching how to integrate this technology into innovative learning packages.

“We recently launched an MA Education Virtual Worlds and we are working in partnership with other universities to create a range of online simulated learning ideas including accident reconstruction, a virtual law office, risk assessment and audit simulation exercises.”

The team are also holding an open afternoon for UWE staff on 21 March between 14:00 – 17:00, EIC colleagues will be available to discuss teaching and learning ideas in science and engineering subjects using virtual online technologies.

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