Thames highlights brought to life in primary pupils' pods

14th August 2009 at 01:00

"What did you do in your spare time?" asks a pupil from Cyril Jackson Primary, east London, of a Second World War navy veteran.

"We went fishing for sharks," comes the answer. "We had one shark that followed us all the way from Japan to Malaya."

The role of shark fishing in the war is part of a short podcast about HMS Belfast made by children and on show to thousands visiting London over the holidays.

There are now 15 multi-media potted guides to 17 major attractions written and produced by the capital's primary school children. The guides are on display in London and on the web as part of the BBC's Tides and Times project, carried out in partnership with the Royal Institute of British Architects London.

The guides are being displayed in three "pods" along the Thames, each designed by children.

More than 500 Years 5 and 6 children were involved in the project, which was free to schools. Pupils from 15 primaries visited the sites, which range from Hampton Court Palace to the Thames Barrier, and then went to the BBC 21st Century Classroom (BBC 21CC) studios in west London to make films for public display.

Sally Briggs, project manager for BBC 21CC, said: "We wanted to bring together all these attractions and the obvious link was the Thames. All the schools are within one mile of the Thames."

A further three primaries worked with architecture practices Alsop, Urban Salon and Amenity Space to design the pods, which are at Somerset House, the Royal Festival Hall and Southwark Cathedral, respectively.

A fourth school worked with architects SCABAL to devise a walking trail between them - marked by waving plastic hands which are half-hidden along the route.

Tarek Merlin, project architect at Alsop, worked with Christ Church primary, Chelsea. He said: "We worked out a brief with the children and messed around with bits of cardboard and string and made a load of mess.

"They prepared a pod design, built a model and went to the BBC's IT suite, where they were able to animate the model.

"We then asked them to present their designs to us, just as once when Somerset House was the home of the Navy Board, people who wanted to build ships would go there with a model to seek funding.

"One model shone out, then we applied for planning permission and worked with Facit, who built it to a limited budget and on time."

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