Earlier this year, we brought the boys to check out the Avengers STATION exhibition at the Singapore Science Centre. While we weren’t particularly enamored by the exhibition itself, the boys did fall in love with the virtual reality exhibition within the Science Centre. They put on the glasses and were immediately transported to a fascinating world of roller coaster. And we had so much fun that I decided to purchase a pair of Discovery VR glasses – which completely sucked because the mechanism that allowed us to adjust the width of the lenses was spoilt!

When the opportunity to try out the two-hour “Little Artists for Virtual Reality” workshop, conducted by Presence Pictures in PIXEL Labs@NLB, came, I jumped. I figured that it was a great way to combine two of Aidan’s interests: art and VR.

Essentially, this programme is targeted at kids aged four to seven. The kids are first taught about perspective – foreground, background etc. – and then encouraged to design and decorate in a VR template on paper. They get to draw and colour, and think about where and how to meaningfully place their objects/characters. This hand-drawn artwork will eventually form their very own virtual world.
Once they are done with their handiwork, the facilitators from Presence Pictures will then use their proprietary VR software to publish it into the VR form.

Okay look, I am not somebody who excelled in Physics so that’s as best an explanation as it gets.

Aidan was thoroughly excited by the process because he already had an idea of what VR is all about. He started showing an interest in art recently and when I explained that he would be able to design his own VR world, he was even more thrilled.

We spent some time with the creative process: first, he had to think about what characters or objects he wanted to inhabit this VR world of his. Then, he was encouraged to sketch them out. Once that was done, he incorporated his characters onto the template provided. Subsequently, he had to fill his world with colours using the pencils provided and embellish it with the stickers provided.

When he completed designing his world, Edmund, one of the facilitators (and the company’s CEO!), took a photo of it using the app on the iPhone and it was immediately projected onto the screen. Aidan was super chuffed to see his work up on display. And then finally, he strapped on the oculus lens and saw his own world in VR form. He could not stop smiling!

What I loved about the workshop was that the facilitators Edmund and Eunice were extremely patient with him. My son can be easily distracted but they managed to coax him through the process, step by step, until it was completed. Eunice also allowed him imagination in portraying his virtual world, telling him to go with whatever colours he had in mind and not be limited to the norm (ie. His sky could be purple, if he liked).

Also, as someone who lacks basic spatial sense (my husband will testify to it), I was impressed that this workshop allowed my five-year-old to think in 3D space. He was given free rein to design his world and the immediate outcome of seeing his work come to life in front of his eyes was most impressive.

Eunice also explained to me that the company runs a longer bootcamp version of the workshop, which I am highly tempted to sign Aidan up for. I think it’s a great, experiential way for kids to learn about virtual reality and spatiality. He’s already an avid Lego builder and this would definitely enhance his ability to see things in 3D.

If you are keen to check out the “Little Artists for Virtual Reality” workshop, it is part of Tech Saturday (Upsized!) 2017, the tech carnival organised by IMDA. Admission is free and so are the workshops! There are many techie workshops (or what Tech Saturday calls “worksheds”) available, ranging from coding to robotics Lego, that cater to different age groups from 7 to 50 and above. There are also Tinker Spaces, which allow you a hands-on experience with 3D printing, VR and robotics, as well as purchase your own electronics project home and DIY a mood lamp, Interactive Showcases which demonstrate the convergence of technology and media projects, as well as activities that you can enjoy with your family like flying a drone or have a first person view on the buggy car.

(I would love to sign Aidan up for the coding one, except he is too young for it. And I would love to attend the transmedia disruptive storytelling techniques one myself.)

So if you have nothing on that weekend, why not check out Tech Saturday? Do note that you have to sign up for the workshops in advance though.

What: Tech Saturday (Upsized!) 2017
When: April 29 to 30
Where: Hall C, Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Level 1
Admission: Free!

We were invited to participate in the “Little Artists for Virtual Reality” workshop but all opinions are my own! Kiddo really liked it – I am definitely considering signing him up for the longer programme.

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