Schools in Blaenau Gwent are learning how 5G connectivity could transform the way we live and work with a new interactive Augmented Reality experience that is being delivered as part of the 5G Wales Unlocked programme, an innovation project co-funded by Welsh Government and various project partners.
As one of the 5G Wales Unlocked project partners, Blaenau Gwent’s STEM Facilitation Programme team leader, Louise Juliff, worked with Welsh Government, Jam Creative Studios and Technocamps to create a way of educating the next generation about the benefits of 5G. The decision was to create an enrichment programme based around an Augmented Reality (AR) game – bringing to life the benefits that advanced connectivity can bring to towns like Ebbw Vale.
Louise Juliff developed an overview of the content and aligned it with STEM priorities in Blaenau Gwent and the Curriculum for Wales. She explains:
“Blaenau Gwent is part of the Tech Valleys programme and the aim is to make the area a hi-tech hot bed so this opportunity complimented that perfectly. We ensured that the content of the programme linked with the key aspects of the local industry. Also with the introduction of the Curriculum for Wales I ensured that the content contributed to the relevant Areas of Learning, as well as the four purposes; this firmly embeds it with what teachers are delivering already and enriches the learner’s experience. We are also exploring the possibility of developing the format further by linking it with the 5G Immersive Environment; this gives a fully rounded experience to the next generation”.
The AR game, developed by Jam Creative Studios and delivered in schools by Technocamps allows learners to work in teams to unlock 5G connectivity around a virtual 3D town by carrying out fun STEM activities.
Played by small groups on iPads, the activities span some of the many different sectors that 5G connectivity will transform; Healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, recycling and transport and enables learners to see a clear change in infrastructure as they walk around and explore in detail the large 3D virtual town environment.
Aimed at learners in years 6 and 7, the experience will also help with their transition from primary to secondary education, as year 7 digital lead learners will be involved in working with the year 6 as they carry out their tasks.
“We’ve used cloud anchor technology to enable teachers in different schools to place the virtual town into a classroom of their choice. The experience is then anchored to that area so that the learners can all walk around it independently and interact with it” explained Adam Martin-Jones, Managing Director of Jam Creative Studios, partners in the 5G Wales Unlocked project and have developed the experience alongside interactive experiences at Raglan Castle and within the BT Immersive classroom in Ebbw Vale.
Technocamp’s Assistant Director Stewart Powell said:
"We are looking forward to delivering workshops to primary schools in the area to educate young people on how 5G works, dispelling myths around 5G and how it will be used as a vehicle to deliver cutting-edge technology across the region in the coming years."
One teacher from a school that has already had the trial said:
"The workshop was very professional and friendly. The learners engaged throughout the session and really enjoyed it."
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said:
“The Welsh Government, through Tech Valleys investment, is proud to have led the delivery of the 5G Wales Unlocked project, which is accelerating 5G deployment across Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire.
“Developing the digital skills of the next generation is key to our ambition to be a digitally confident nation, and I’m delighted our investment in Technocamps is helping us deliver on that ambition.
“The 5G Enrichment Programme is one of the many fun and interactive ways to help develop the skills, knowledge and experience of our learners to benefit from an increasingly digital and changing economy.”
For more updates around STEM in Blaenau Gwent, follow @BGCBCSTEM on Twitter.