Virtual Reality in Bucharest

by Deborah Rodrigues Moreira, Berlin GabLab/ Gluck Workshops

Seeing children trying VR for the very first time is always a pleasure! I wonder for how long I’ll witness such wonder with this new technology, because I want children to feel this in every workshop I do with them.

In Bucharest, I was invited by Anca and Monica to a school for underprivileged children. The room was perfect for setting up the equipment, with lots of space and a calm environment for immersion.

Dylan, Justyna and I had a new idea for this workshop: to understand the bridge between physical and virtual. We decided to ask children to build a small sculpture out of cardboard, then use that sculpture inside Tilt Brush and try to retrace that same object. I already had expectations for what would happen and the workshop confirmed these; as soon as the children entered the virtual, they forgot completely about the physical world.

We asked them all to build together (see Figure 1) and slowly invited them one by one to retrace what they had made inside VR (see Figure 2). They all got really invested in the building process, and then even more invested in the virtual experience after entering Tilt Brush.

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 19.38.13                                          Figure 1: Building in the physical world

After a moment playing on VR, a group of children went back to work more on their cardboard sculptures! And they wanted to take it home, which is always a nice sign that they enjoyed what they had created and felt empowered by the experience of the workshop (see Figure 3). Beautiful!

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 19.38.41                                              Figure 2: Building in the virtual world

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 19.38.49                                  Figure 3: Some of the sculptures created by children

Even when trying to focus on the sculpture, Tilt Brush amazed them so much, they would just get completely immersed in it, and ignored the cardboard creations they were asked to trace.

While the kids were in VR, the others (who had already finished their sculptures and were just waiting to go in), were interacting with the child already in the virtual space.  Even though they were wearing the VR headset and could not see each other the children would touch each other and run and laugh at the same time. Really playful.

Seeing that reaction, I decided to try something different the next day: instead of using cardboard and sculptures, I suggested children would become the sculptures themselves, and the child that was inside Tilt Brush had to touch their friends outline and try to trace around them. It was beautiful to see the children become big complex sculptures, waiting to be drawn (see Figure 3).

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 19.39.00Figure 4: A boy helps his friend to understand where to click and how things worked – cooperation!

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