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#WeAreTogether: University encourages school children to get creative during lockdown – University of Reading

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#WeAreTogether: University encourages school children to get creative during lockdown

Release Date 22 July 2020

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Children from Reading primary and secondary schools have been getting creative during lockdown, thanks to a cutting-edge art and technology project run by the University of Reading.

ArtLab is run by staff and students from the University's School of Art. Its aim is to help teachers, parents and pupils understand the value that art brings when combined with technology, offering new opportunities and potential careers as part of the creative economy. The school children involved gain valuable new skills in computing, digital media and new technologies.

For the last five years, ArtLab has successfully ran one-day workshops with primary and secondary schools around Reading, as part of its outreach and widening participation activities. Due to Covid-19, this was not possible this year. However, the launch of Lockdown Lab has ensured that school children do not miss out.

Lockdown Lab is a dedicated area on the ArtLab website, where planned activities have been recreated online. The activities are aimed at years five and six pupils but can be adapted for younger children. Activities so far, which span an array of subjects in relation to art, include:

  • ArtsMark 360 MERL Challenge: Pupils are invited to create content inspired by a 360 version of The Museum of English Rural Life - combining their artwork with subjects across the school curriculum to create a unique tour of the museum that can contribute to the Maiden Erlegh School in Reading's Artsmark Award.
  • Animate Your Home: Art students explore the world of the home, and the everyday things we have at our fingertips through stop frame animation to tell creative mini stories and inspire pupils to make their own.
  • Positivity GIFs: ArtLab's co-researcher art students Lennox and Jennifer review two apps for making GIFs and share their positivity GIFs, encouraging school children to make their own Lockdown Lab Positivity GIF.
  • Kidtronics: Inspired by animatronics, the Kidtronics ‘make-along' videos teach children how to make puppets, learning about different mechanisms and creating movement and expressions to tell their stories.

Tina O'Connell, Director of ArtLab, said: "ArtLab is concerned with how we make the most of young people's futures. By bringing a wide range of children from across different social backgrounds into contact with cutting-edge art and technology projects we hope to open their eyes to new ideas and future opportunities.

"Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we were unable to engage with local school children in the normal way this year but I think the Lockdown Lab has proved to be a great success and has taught everyone involved valuable new online skills."

University students involved in Lockdown Lab have also created a resources section on the website, where they review and recommend the best free activities available online. These students have gained valuable new skills themselves during this process, including video editing and using voiceovers and subtitles to demonstrate activities and review other online content.

Khadija Niang, a recent BA Art and English Literature graduate, who has been working with ArtLab, said: "ArtLab makes art more accessible and more tangible to children who may not necessarily have this access. There is so much opportunity in art and it's great to be able to share it in this way."

The success of ArtLab has led to it being offered as an optional module by the School of Art and is forming the basis of an Arts and Humanities Research Council funding bid.

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