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AARNet enables interactive astronomy for Australian school students

AARNet, Australia's Academic and Research Network, is partnering with content providers such as Questacon, Australia’s leading scientific educator, and Australian National University, to create a new style of interactive content for school students.
  • 16 April, 2009 10:45

<p>New style of high-definition, interactive curriculum resources bring Questacon and CSIRO into classrooms</p>
<p>Sydney, AUSTRALIA – 16 April 2009 – AARNet, Australia's Academic and Research Network, is partnering with content providers such as Questacon, Australia’s leading scientific educator, and Australian National University, to create a new style of interactive content for school students. The high-definition content is specifically designed to fit into the school curriculum and add value to existing resources. It is delivered via videoconference over the AARNet network, to high schools around Australia.</p>
<p>The first event to showcase this new style of content was the “100 Hours of Astronomy” event, held from April 2-5. 100 Hours of Astronomy is the largest global event to celebrate astronomy during 2009, the International Year of Astronomy. During this event, Australian high-school students participated in interactive videoconferences with Questacon in Canberra and ANU’s Donna Burton from Siding Spring Observatory in the Warrambungle National Park, NSW.</p>
<p>Questacon presented an introduction to astronomy, which included interactive discussion on the following:</p>
<p>· 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first use of the telescope, including a look at Galileo’s life and science, with recreations of some of his early experiments in motion</p>
<p>· 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon</p>
<p>· An overview of the Kepler Space Telescope project and the Australian bid for the Square Kilometre Array telescope project</p>
<p>Interactive activities for students included simulating Galileo’s experiments, such as rolling objects of different weights down an incline and dropping objects of different weights from the same height.</p>
<p>Donna Burton presented from inside the 3.9 metre Siding Spring Telescope, one of the largest optical telescopes in Australia. Her interactive presentations covered the following topics:</p>
<p>1. Is there anybody out there and how can we find them?</p>
<p>2. What do astronomers do, and how do I become one?</p>
<p>3. The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs: will it happen again and what are we doing to avoid it?</p>
<p>Robert Bunzli, Project Officer, Digital and New Media, at Questacon, said, “We are very excited about delivering new interactive learning material direct to classrooms across Australia. Without AARNet’s high-speed network and direct links to schools, 100 hours of Astronomy would have been something that only students who came to Questacon in person could benefit from. AARNet has been instrumental in helping us get in touch with schools and deliver our content through this new channel.”</p>
<p>Donna Burton from ANU, said, “It was exciting to be doing live, interactive videoconferencing direct to the classrooms. It allowed the students to ask questions and see the inside of the telescope facility – something they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to see, if not for this technology and the interactive learning program.”</p>
<p>Chris Hancock, CEO of AARNet, said, “It is important for AARNet to be an enabler of both science and education, so the next obvious step was for us to bring the two together in an interactive forum. We look forward to sharing the benefits of a high-speed network with more and more schools and the wider scientific community, as this program evolves.”</p>
<p>AARNet is planning further projects in 2009 which will target other disciplines such as the performing arts where an interactive performance of the HSC text ‘Ruby Moon’ by the MSquared theatre company will be delivered virtually to remote schools across Australia. AARNet will also continue its support of the International Year of Astronomy in National Science Week running 15 – 23 August.</p>
<p>- ENDS -</p>
<p>About AARNet</p>
<p>AARNet Pty Ltd (APL) is the company that operates Australia's Academic and Research Network (AARNet). It is a not-for-profit company limited by shares. The shareholders are 37 Australian universities and the CSIRO. AARNet provides high-capacity leading edge Internet services for the tertiary education and research sector communities and their research partners. AARNet serves more than one million end users who access the network through local area networks at member institutions. For further information, please visit: www.aarnet.edu.au.</p>
<p>For further information, please contact:</p>
<p>Rachel York</p>
<p>Max Australia</p>
<p>(02) 9954 3492</p>
<p>rachel.york@maxaustralia.com.au</p>

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