This is a fun way to project colourful images onto walls, ceilings and floors, even umbrellas. Although it could be argued that video projection offers a wider range of material, the ‘Mirage’ projector does not require a computer, it is also very portable and does not call for the practitioner to have detailed technical knowledge in order to operate it.
The Mirage is an inexpensive projection system, which operates best in a darkened space. It can project a vast range of artwork or pictures from liquid wheels to topic-related imagery, which can be chosen to suit children and adults alike in special or mainstream services. The technology in this projector is old, but somehow the track record is reassuring and, in my experience, it is uncommon for this type of projector to develop a major fault.
Many of us have incredible visual skills, which enable us to observe, understand and act on visual information. A high percentage of students with learning difficulties will have some degree of visual impairment so visual stimulation is a high priority and, for this, a projector is an impressive tool. Watching a projected image, without using switches or other forms of interaction may be perceived by some as unproductive; however, stimulation of this nature for short periods of time can assist in the development of visual awareness and can help the student to gain essential visual and life skills.
At a more advanced level, the students and practitioners can make their own wheels for curriculum subjects, topics or themes. I encourage learners to collect objects and to place them into a blank wheel. Leaves, transparent candy wrappers and photographic transparencies are very effective. Students can also draw their own wheels using overhead projector pens.
The key to success is finding an image, colour, shape or contrast that the student will want to look at, then making sure the student is the right distance from the image. When used with imagination and skill, this projection system is quite unique as a tool in education services. It offers that little suggestion of magic often needed to inspire the students at all levels of understanding.