University of Lincoln (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 7668-7675
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
There are many methods by which people learn, including visual, aural, physical. Each individual has their own preferences for which they learn best. People are known to learn better via observation, listening or reading whilst others have a preference for learning by doing.

Some styles, whilst they might be preferred by the learner, do not fully lend themselves to all situations, certain topics can certainly be learnt through observation or from a text book. However there is no substitute for learning through the physical activity of ‘doing’.

This method of ‘doing’ works well in education and is used in subjects such as Design and Technology; however the challenge arises when the activity relates to an external activity or visit. Schools often take groups of students on external visits to teach subjects that the classroom is not environment to do so, to places including museums, archaeological sites and other historical places of interest.

One educational area of interest pertains to the heritage craft of Blacksmithing. This heritage craft in the past has played an important role for local villagers, being part of the community the Blacksmith would bring a much needed skill to the people of the village. However, this is a craft that has been in decline since the early 20th century. As such preserving the history of this heritage is of significant importance to the younger generation and education as a whole as it can teach the historical importance of blacksmithing.

Visiting a blacksmith forge can benefit the curriculum in areas such as History, teaching the historical impact and working practices of the time; Craft and Design, teaching how to make objects using different tools; Science, understanding how material properties change with temperature. However, to achieve this, schools need to find a local ‘active’ blacksmith forge and arrange for visits; with limited time and resources this would mean not all students partake in the activity, would have substantial travel costs and being in an active forge would in itself bring inherent risks.

In this paper we present a 3D Printing Virtual Blacksmith Simulator. Using modern technologies including 3D printers and virtual reality (VR) headsets we are reuniting new generations with this heritage. We have developed a fully interactive VR replica of a local Blacksmith Forge. The simulator allows for the ‘virtual crafting’ of blacksmith objects from horseshoes to coat hooks, in a VR world. Using motion sensing technology to monitor the movements of the participant and providing instructions both visually and aurally instructing users how to ‘work’ the virtual artefact to make an artefact.

The simulator provides a safe and fully immersive experience of Blacksmithing that can be used within an educational institution. Not only does the simulator allow for the virtual creation of artefacts; once an object has been virtually created in the simulator it can be 3D printed allowing for the physical creation of the simulated artefact.

The Simulator provides an immersive 21st century learning experience, making it accessible to a new generation. Developing bespoke software and integrating human motion capture tracking sensors, we allow people to try blacksmithing for themselves without the need to use dangerous and heavy equipment. This project will allow schools to bring back exposure of these crafts to pupils in a new, modern and safe and fun way.
Simulation, 3D printing, heritage, learning.