The Builder tools are being developed with a target user group that includes primary and secondary school children. The limited time available within the educational curricula for 3D modelling drives the design of the tools. Users need to learn and get benefit from the tools quickly and that is what we believe the tools provide.
Here is a report on the first trial of our steam locomotive building tools – at St Anne’s RC Primary School, Ormskirk:
Here is the slideshow we used and that is referred to in the report:
Here is a report on the first trial of the ship building tools – at St Anne’s RC Primary School, Ormskirk:
Here is the slideshow we used and that is referred to in the report:
The following sections describe the educational aspects of the tools.
ThingBuilder and ScenarioBuilder
Church Builder was initially aimed at primary school children aged between 9 and 11 years (Years 5 and 6 in the UK). The objective was to produce a 3D modelling tool that children could learn to use in 15 minutes and create realistic, complex models quickly. We believe we are meeting this objective.
The original concept was to provide a tool kit for modelling a range of types of buildings including churches, castles and palaces that could be placed in a virtual world modelling the heritage of their locality that could be shared across Europe via the World Wide Web. Church Builder is the first component in this tool kit.
We have trialled Church Builder in a number of primary schools throughout the Merseyside area since July 2005. The response from the children has been very positive. This was in spite of the awkward interfaces employed in our early versions of the software as we explored different approaches. We found the children quickly picked up the church architecture terminology and quite happily talked in terms of naves, chancels, towers and transepts when building their models. They coped very well with the software especially as we changed it in responses to their experiences. The current version of Church Builder has been found to be very intuitive after an initial few minutes introduction.
We have been asked for school builders, castle builders, mosque builders and so on. All these are possible but we had to start somewhere. We chose to model churches because:
- They are big, sometimes complicated, buildings providing a rich variety of components to engage the modeller;
- Traditional, Gothic style churches are built to rules that make it easy to identify a sequence in which the models can be built
- The real thing is never far away – every community in the UK has a church of some sort. In contrast, most people do not live near a castle. Thus, a school trip to the local church to carry out observations, photographing and measuring is much easier to organise.
- The buildings are often an important repository of the history of a community. We believe that engaging the children through modelling is a great opportunity of giving the children a sense of that history
- Many schools in the UK are associated with local churches and Church Builder gives a further opportunity of strengthening the association We like church architecture. We can build models of churches and walk about them using the Church Builder tour facility or else export them to web pages and explore them using a 3D viewer such as Cortona.
- We can also make video clips and JPEG pictures of the models using Church Builder.
- We have learned a lot while making Church Builder. The lessons will be applied to producing Castle Builder etc
Church Builder started life as the first of a set of proposed tools to enable children to model their local heritage and place it on a shared virtual world so that it would be visible to partner developers across Europe and visitors from all over the world. Churches are usually the oldest and most historical buildings in the locality and provide a rich subject for modelling. It was also intended to show the heritage changing over time. Individual churches have changed considerably over time with additions and alterations made in different architectural styles. Also, physical changes were brought about by changes in religious practices – for example the removal of wall paintings during the English Reformation.
Church Builder provides an opportunity to create a dynamic model showing how a church developed and changed over time.
UK National Curriculum areas addressed by Church Builder include:
Shape, space measures
Materials and their properties
Working with tools
Knowledge and understanding of components
Finding things out
Exchanging and sharing information
All areas of History and Geography
Exploring and developing ideas
Investigating and making art
Here are some resources you may find helpful in planning how to use Church Builder and the Builder tools.
All the documents are in PDF format.
You need the Adobe® plugin which is available free at
Teacher resources for ChurchBuilder
Church Builder was originally developed for school children (although there is nothing to prevent adults from building churches too!).
Here are some documents that we used during the
When we started trialling Church Builder to Year 5 and 6 classes in primary schools in the Merseyside area, we created an introductory slide show that explained to the children the structure of a traditional church. The slide show reinforces this by showing photographs of examples inviting the children to name the parts. They love coming out to the Smart Board or projector screen to point to the next bit.
Further reinforcement is provided by this work sheet which asks them to identify the parts. Once they have finished, you can go through the corresponding set of slides to confirm the answers with them. After this they are ready to be unleashed on Church Builder !
Here is an additional pupil workbook that the children can use to reinforce their learning about churches.
Here is an example of the churches that two of the Year 6 children made:
Teacher resources for ThingBuilder and ScenarioBuilder
We ran our first trial at St Anne’s RC Primary School in Ormskirk in June 2013. We ran the session twice. One Year 6 class had their session in the morning. The other class had their session in the afternoon. It was considered a great success.
The session consisted of 9 stages:
1. Demonstration of the Liverpool Scenario
2. The vocabulary of ships
3. Annotation of drawings of ships
4. Demonstration of building a ship with ThingBuilder
5. Children using ThingBuilder to build a ship
6. Demonstration of ScenarioBuilder
7. Children adding their ships to a scenario
8. Demonstration of manual control of a ship
9. Children manually controlling their ships in the scenario
Here are the documents we used:
Here are two of the models the children made:
Here is the report: Report on Builder Session at St Annes RC Primary School June 2013.