Over the past year the Australian Museum’s Education and Palaeontology teams have collaborated with the NSW Department of Education’s Technology 4 Learning team to create a fun virtual reality (VR) experience for 8 to 12-year-old school students. The experience hits NSW Curriculum Science and Technology learning objectives as students freely investigate animal adaptations and classification through fossils in 3D, using VR.
The 3D experience was made using Situ360, an immersive multi-media tool, which allows you to navigate through and create your own adventure by clicking into a variety of 360-degree spaces, watching videos and reading relevant content. Into the future, you will also be able to explore 3D scans of the fossils seen in the spaces.
During your virtual journey you meet the Museum’s resident palaeontologists Dr Matt McCurry and Dr Patrick Smith, who both try to convince you to follow their preferred speciality – vertebrate versus invertebrate fossils! If you follow Matt, you will gain an up-close look around his office, and if you choose Pat, you will end up amongst his favourite fossils in the palaeontology collections. Through following both scientists, you will acquire insight into their expert knowledge about fossils, with a focus on classification, adaptations, and comparative anatomy. Additionally, you can ‘dig’ a little deeper with a visit to the Museum’s mysterious workshop area! In here you will see Matt excavating a fossil using a mini drill, and Tina Mansson making fossil casts. Here you will also have the opportunity to learn more about scientific technologies such as 3D scanning.
VR is an engaging tool and gives students the opportunity to access the Museum’s experts and explore behind-the-scenes, normally off limits. The experience also aims to inspire teachers and students to research and create their own 3D experience using photo spheres of the Museum’s spaces which will be made available to NSW public education schools soon.
You can watch and explore behind the scenes in palaeontology at the Australian Museum here.
By Fiona Brell, Education Project Officer