Sustaining Culture with Virtual Reality

Updated: Nov 25, 2019

Virtual Reality (VR) is an interesting and, let's face it, very cool technology. But how can educators use it with meaning in their classrooms?

What happens when young people explore Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through VR from a place of learning and deep understanding?

Scienceworks tackled these questions in late October by bringing their STEM specialists together with Museum Victoria's First Peoples department to produce a Design Sprint. Design Sprints are student and teacher co-learning STEM opportunities that lead participants through the design process within a day.

Sustaining Culture, the fourth Design Sprint under the WeSTEM partnership with the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, VR, and a student design challenge to create a VR scene that represents their own cultures.

14 Catholic schools from across Melbourne started the day in the Planetarium, screening and learning about the film Carriberrie, which features many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and their dance traditions. Carriberrie was originally shot for viewing in VR, but was also converted to the fulldome for a more collective viewing experience. Participants heard from Isobel Morphy-Walsh, a First Peoples Curator at Museums Victoria, on her experience as a Taungurung woman and how the museum uses technology to preserve Aboriginal Culture. The teams were then guided through pre-production of telling a story from their own cultures, and introduced to the VR/AR creation platform CoSpaces. The students in years 3-9 produced their own virtual reality scene, some of which were featured at the end of the sprint.

This blend of technology, teamwork, and storytelling brings the expertise of the museums and the frameworks of STEM learning together for a unique experience for students and their teachers.

The student feedback on the day reflected the collaborative nature of the work, the chance to have their voice heard, and the struggle to pick up a new skill such as coding. Teachers enjoyed the chance to connect with other schools and were challenged by the process of stepping out of the driver's seat and letting students take the wheel!

“The best part for me was working as a team because then we learn more about each other and about their cultures” -Student

" I loved the flow of the day. I thought the process was engaging and allowed for students to remain excited in/by the task" -Teacher

The two scenes featured at the conclusion of the Design Sprint can be viewed below:

St. Damian’s

St. Martin De Porres

Carriberrie will be avaliable to book for school groups visiting Scienceworks in 2020, from December 1. For more information, contact our bookings team on 13 11 02.

Many thanks to all the schools who participated:

St Thomas Aquinas, Norlane

MacKillop Catholic Regional College

Our Lady of the Rosary Parish School Kyneton

Nazareth Primary School, Grovedale

St Brigid's Primary School, Mordialloc

St Martin De Porres, Laverton

Our Lady of the Nativity Primary, Aberfeldie

St Mary's Primary School, Malvern East

St Damian’s Primary, Bundoora

St Mary's Primary School Geelong

Corpus Christi, Kingsville

Corpus Christi, Werribee

Sacred Heart Primary School, Colac

Our Lady of the Pines Primary School, Donvale

Design Sprints made possible thanks to funding from the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria

Museums Victoria acknowledges the Woi Wurrung (Wurundjeri) and Boonwurrung peoples of the eastern Kulin Nations where we work, and First Peoples language groups and communities across Victoria and Australia.

Our organisation, in partnership with the First Peoples of Victoria, is working to place First Peoples living cultures and histories at the core of our practice. Visit the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre website for more information.

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