New technology adds extra dimension to Geography lessons at The Leys

New technology to enhance the teaching of Geography has been incorporated into classrooms at The Leys. The greatly enhanced Geography Department was officially opened by Mike Hulme, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Cambridge.

Photo: The Leys
Trying out the new facilities
Trying out the new facilities

10th September 2021 — Exciting new technology to enhance the teaching of Geography has been incorporated into classrooms at The Leys over the summer.

The greatly enhanced Geography Department was officially opened by Mike Hulme, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Cambridge, in the presence of the current Leysian family whose generosity made the innovations possible, on Friday (3 September).

The project began with the Vision Studio, established in 2019 to explore the educational possibilities of virtual and augmented reality technologies across the curriculum.

The Geography Department, headed by Peter Hicks, has been using the technology to create virtual field trips, enabling pupils to explore locations such as the Jurassic Coast from their iPads through drone footage, 360 views, and accompanying instructional videos. Much of this content has been shot and edited by pupils.

New features added this summer include an augmented reality sandbox which uses a 3D camera, linked to two large display screens, that allows pupils to create their own landscapes and model how they change over time.

There are plans to create virtual tours for the Modern Foreign Language departments.

The project is also using simpler technology such as Merge Cubes: handheld cardboard cubes that act as augmented reality targets.

When combined with an iPad, they allow pupils to hold, rotate, and interact with objects or processes such as a globe, the water cycle, a statue, or molecular structure.

Hamish Mackenzie, Digital Consultant at The Leys, said: "By accessing cutting edge technologies and understanding how they can be used in the real world, the pupils are able to join the dots between theory and reality.

"We see this second phase as the natural progression for the project. It ensures that the Vision Studio research and technology are accessible to more members of the pupil body and wider Leysian community."

Image Description
Professor Mike Hulme officially opens the classrooms.

The Leys School (Coed 11-18) is a day and boarding school in Cambridgeshire.

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