UTC Sheffield Showcase the VR Prosthetics Project to Primary Students

UTC Sheffield is working in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University and the Wellcome Trust on an innovative ‘Virtual Reality and Prosthetics Mind and Body Project’. The project showcases cutting-edge biomedical and technological research. The project aims  to generate interest, excitement and conversation about joint physiotherapy, limb loss and the physiological impact of prosthetic choice and use.

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As part of this project, on Thursday 7th April, UTC Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University invited two primary schools and over 60 children to participate in an activity-packed workshop.

The workshop opened with a presentation about the evolution of prosthetics and asked the students to think about how the mind controls the body. After the initial presentation the primary children made their way around four activity stations, manned by UTC Students and Sheffield Hallam ambassadors.

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Activity Station 1 – Explore It

At the first activity station students were asked to build a virtual  arm up out of the major bones and muscles, using leap motion, an accessory for computers that uses infrared sensors. Students were also asked to identify the major muscles in the arms and rebuild on a model. One child commented ‘This is so cool! I want to come here.’

Activity Station 2 – Solve It

The second station challenged students to wrap a small present using only one hand. To wrap the present students needed to cut the wrapping paper, fold around the present and secure the wrapping with sellotape. Students quickly identified the difficultly and used other parts of their body, for example using their chin to secure the paper or hold the gift still. After a while, and with the encouragement of the UTC students, the students used each other to help. One child commented ‘This is so hard; it was much easier when my friend could help me.’

Activity Station 3 – Design It

Activity station three asked the students to design their own prosthetic arm; ideas included a TV, toothbrush, Nintendo DS, automatic MacDonald’s delivery, eating utensils, a radio, a coffee machine and much more. Other students suggested more practical additions such as being waterproof and light weight.

Activity Station 4 – Film It

On the final station students were asked to reflect on the questions, ‘What did you expect from the day?’ and ‘What have you learnt from the day?’ whilst being filmed.

UTC Student Callum Fellows helped out with the activities, he said, ‘I’ve really enjoyed this project, it’s very good fun and enjoyable but is still educational and important. I hope the children here today have enjoyed the workshop.’

At the end students were asked to describe the session in one word:

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