3D at Oakington Manor Primary School

By Ophelia Vanderpuye

In 2006 following a visit to China by the school’s headteacher and ICT Advanced Skills Teacher, discussions took place about the possibility of building a new ICT suite as the then suite had become too small for the growing children. In the years that followed plans and visits to new build schools to give inspiration for the design of the new building In 2009, we took a bold leap into the unknown as our discussion with our architect and ICT suppliers started to show a design that was totally different to anything we had seen in the schools we visited.

Oakington Manor has had a long history of innovative use of ICT and this new build was an opportunity for us to ‘think outside of the box’, and build something that was functional, spacious and flexible. We strongly believed that there was still a place for dedicated ICT suites as it helps to focus the use of discreet ICT, which could sometimes get lost in the integrated approach.

One example of 3D in action at Oakington ManorOur decision to go 3D came after looking at a variety of resources and possible equipment that would enable us to inspire and take the children to another level in their use of ICT and its resources. Through Research Machines, we invited a company called Amazing Interactives to come and demonstrate to us how 3D could bring learning alive for our children. At this time we all still a little sceptical as it was very difficult to visualise how the whole ‘3D thing’ would work in a classroom setting.

On the day of the demonstration six of us sat and waited whilst the equipment was set up. When the show started, Oh my goodness, we were screaming and laughing and shouting “Whoa’! How did they do that?” The demonstration of the human body with various organs right in front of our eyes, very close up was absolutely amazing! We could almost touch them. They also had the ‘eeerrr factor’.

That’s it, we were all sold on the idea. The decision was made and we purchased the 3.2m x 3.0 3D screen, projectors and 3D film kit. Since the building was completed and opened in September 2009 we have been using 3D resources to support science looking at the solar system, healthy eating, functions of the organs, maths, Tudors, and more recently phonics and spelling. The experience we have had with using 3D resources has been fantastic as it brings alive the topics in a way that other ICT resources does not.

The creativity  of the children in years 5 and 6 (10 and 11 year olds) in the last year has shot through the roof because of the film work we have been doing. Don’t get me wrong, our school has been making films with children for many, many years but now they have the prospect of creating films in 3D, the ideas they have been coming up with have been absolutely weird and wonderful! Our first 3D film was made early in 2010 to test out setting up the equipment and to see just how filming would work.

Setting up the equipment has to be precise and requires two of us to set it up. This is primarily because we are still new to the set up and we need more practise at setting up the two cameras. The Sony camera equipment has a sync unit which enables both cameras to be switched on at the same time. It is all very technical…but fun. The learning curve for the ICT team has also shot through the roof.

We held our very first film festival week in July 2011and due to its success, we will be running another in July 2012. In preparation for this, each year group has been given a genre of film to make to be screened at the festival. Making a film in 3D has been offered to year 6, who are due to be making a documentary. We are at the planning stage of the process and expect it to take a number of weeks before the ideas are polished, scripts written and filming started. The children are being taken through the whole film making process which covers the basic skills such as camera use, looking at camera angles, deciding who will do what etc, etc. There are a number of considerations we found we had to make when filming in 3D and the first was how we moved across the camera to give the ‘coming at you’ effect, use of the clapper board at the start of the film- as it aids the editing process. All in all we are quite excited about making these films for our film festival week. It is a long process but very creative and the children involved love to be involved.

Ophelia Vanderpuye is the school's ICT Co-ordinator and Advanced Skills Teacher for ICT. Follow the school on Twitter, and visit the school’s website. Also, read A Visit to Oakington Manor Primary School for an insight into how inspiring Ophelia’s work with the school is.

This article was first published in Computers in Classrooms, the free e-newsletter for those with a professional interest in educational ICT.