28th March 2014, 8:25am
Inspiring young people through science and technology
The Oculus Rift School pupils are creating their own state-of-the-art 3D worlds thanks to youth charity The Prince’s Trust.

The University of Lincoln is hosting young people from two local schools, Lincoln Castle Academy and Caistor Yarborough Academy, who are taking part in The Prince's Trust xl club, designed to support young people in developing the skills and confidence at school needed to progress into a positive future.

The pupils are taking part in a special eight-week programme, during which they will have the opportunity to work with the Oculus Rift head-mounted virtual reality headset.

Helen Webster, from the University’s School of Computer Science, is leading the workshops which enable the students to see how games are developed and to test out their own 3D environments.

Helen, who specialises in digital special effects and multi-media technology, said: “The students are being taught how this technology might be used in future computer games development and also in providing immersive training simulations.

“We are hoping to fire them up with some ideas about possible careers in technology. Very few people have access to the Oculus Rift headsets, which will revolutionise the way people experience video games. It will give them a flavour of high-tech industry and some of the opportunities that are available if they do well in science and maths.”

Funded with £500,000 from global music artist, entrepreneur and philanthropist will.i.am, The Prince’s Trust xl programme aims to help inspire and engage young people with STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects and build skills that are vital in the job market.

Gary Jones, Head of Year 11 at Lincoln Castle Academy, said: "Having an understanding of science and developments in IT in this ever-changing technological world we live in is essential. Working alongside the University of Lincoln and The Prince's Trust is an amazing opportunity for students of Lincoln Castle Academy to gain an insight that they would never normally gain in the traditional classroom."

The pupils from Caistor Yarborough Academy have just completed their course and showcased their creations at a special presentation.

Nicola Colley, xl Club Advisor at Caistor Yarborough Academy, said: “These workshops gave our students the fantastic opportunity to broaden their learning beyond the classroom. Working in a new and exciting environment, engagement was high and it is obvious that in addition to thoroughly enjoying the challenge, the experience boosted confidence and self-esteem. We have noticed a significant improvement in their ability to work as a team – exploring unfamiliar territory together appears to have had a very positive affect – and it has also been great to see some students demonstrate unexpected ability.

“In a society where science and technology are increasingly important, enrichment schemes like this are invaluable when it comes to helping students understand the relevance of their school curriculum. They learn that STEM subjects are interdisciplinary and highly relevant to future employment.”

For further information about The Prince’s Trust, visit www.princes-trust.org.uk or call 0800 842842.
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