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Posted Wednesday, 19 September 2012, 01:00 PM

"Virtual universe" visits Hutchins

View the media coverage of the IGLEw at Hutchins on ABC Online's news site.

Over one thousand students from schools around Hobart have visited The Hutchins School to experience a virtual “flight through space” using NASA technology.

The Australian Academic and Research Network AARNet, is showcasing the IGLEw (Immersive Global Learning Environment) – an inflatable 3D theatre – to schools around Australia.

The IGLEw experience enables students to explore the known universe via the American Museum of Natural History and NASA’s Digital Universe Atlas.

This fully interactive, visually engaging experience presents complex concepts in an easy-to-understand learning environment. Students will experience “fly-through tours” brought to life by imagery from NASA global telescope networks and 3D technology.

CEO of AARNet Mr Chris Hancock says AARNet’s goal is to connect the latest data and research to the classroom teaching and learning experience.

“Interactive classrooms are the future and AARNet is making this happen by showcasing the IGLEw to these schools.”

Physicist and Hutchins teacher Mr James Seddon says the rise in popularity of portable devices and interactive technology has seen a shift in popularity towards science subjects, with students no longer seeing science as “nerdy”.

“Students – and boys in particular – learn better when they can interact and visualise,” he said.

“Boys learn a lot more in science through hands-on experience; it makes their understanding more concrete.”

“Experiences like this bring space down into the classroom and help to get students interested in Physics.”

The Hutchins School Director of Information Services Dr Jill Abell says virtual learning opens up new worlds for students.

“Through our ‘Global Classroom’ we use high definition videoconferencing, which gives us the opportunity for face-to-face contact with renowned scientists,” she said.

“Boys recently had the opportunity for discussions with Nobel Prize winner, astrophysicist Brian Schmidt.”

Year 6 student Baxter Crawford says the popularity of virtual reality technology and portable devices like iPods mean science is now seen as “cool” among his classmates.

“Technology is science and new technology means you get to look at new discoveries. It makes it easier to find out things.”

“My idol is Sir Richard Branson and he is always using technology to make his ideas happen.”

“I hope this is the classroom of the future because more students would get into science.”



Photo: Hutchins teacher Mr James Seddon hosted "guided tours of the universe" inside the AARNet IGLEw.

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