ForestVR April 2019 Update - Federal Funding Announced
School students around Australia will soon get a 360 degree view of the forestry industry thanks to cutting edge, virtual reality filming just completed during February and March at Mount Gambier, South Australia, Kyogle|Grafton|Casino in Northern NSW, Beerburrum, Queensland, and the Agroforestry research site at Cressy, Tasmania.
Working with Think Digital in Term 1 2019, ForestLearning has undertaking 360 filming with forest and wood product organisiations from these regions to capture the complete pine, spotted gum and agroforestry stories for Australian classrooms. Organisations involved in the film production have included Forestry Corporation of NSW, Hurford Forest, Hurford Hardwood, OneFortyOne Plantations, Timberlands, Green Triangle Forest Products, HQPlantations and Private Forests Tasmania. This completes the first round of pine, spotted gum and agroforestry virtual school excursions with footage taken last year at Visy Paper and Board, Tumut and Hyne Mill, Tumbarumba.
Ultimately students will be able to see where the sustainable timber that is used in their every day lives comes from, and be able to follow the complete renewable wood cycle - from seed --> planting --> growing forest and management of the forests --> harvest --> milling --> timber and wood fibre product --> back to seed and planting to start the cycle again. Interviews with a diverse range of forestry and wood product professionals, soil and foliar sampling procedures useful for school field work, indigeneous connections to state native forest areas, and silvicultural forest management practices are all on show to give a unique, Australia first insight into the forest and wood industries.
ForestLearning is really excited to be using the 360 filming technology to immersively tell forestry’s sustainable and renewable story. Students for the first time, will be able to see, and 'virtually visit', firsthand how forest, wood and wood fibre products such as paper and cardboard operations work, using a technology that they can engage with.
Federal Funding Announced for ForestVR on International Day of the Forests
ForestLearning was delighted to learn on International Day of the Forests that the Australian Government has committed additional funding to extend the renewable forest and wood story for the also newly announced Forest Industry Hub regions - North/North West Tasmania, South West Western Australia, and expanding the stories told within the Green Triangle and North East New South Wales. Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Richard Colbeck, said the new expansion of the virtual reality (VR) tools for forestry education would help grow awareness and opportunities for students and the industry.
The VR Spotted Gum Forests and Timber Story - Northern New South Wales
Filming has just finished on the NSW North Coast to tell the spotted gum timber story, covering a range of forestry operations including the Grafton nursery (pine and eucalypt seedlings propagated), Divines State Forest native forestry operations, and Hurfod Forests. Virtual tours were also captured at the Hurford Hardwood green mill and dry mill, that are otherwise inaccessible to school groups.
Another highlight of the filming was being able to interview in Divines State Forest, NSW Forestry Corporation Aboriginal Partnerships Liaison Officer, Rachael Cavanagh, and her 6 year old daughter, to allow Australian school students an immersive glimpse of work being done with the region’s native state forests partnering with Aboriginal communities, as well as indigeneous Australia's connection to forests and country. Rachel and her daughter identified some commonly found bushfoods such as the wombat berry for example, that tastes like bubblegum, that is sure to amaze and appeal to a young audience.
Hurford Hardwood director, Andrew Hurford, was only too pleased to be involved and interviewed within the ForestVR Edcuation toolkit for schools. He said: "The 360 filming is definitely a unique and imaginative opportunity to tell wood’s story as the ultimate renewable resource.
“It’s like nothing I’ve seen before – both the filming and the end result.The camera captures everything around it in a 360 degree sphere, so when you are presenting, you are talking to a camera and an empty room. The difference is, you can interact with it in the same way as you would with a school group on a real school excursion. The 360 tours and videos themselves are really quite amazing to see, and will give the students for the first time a great opportunity to engage, and virtually, visit all aspects of the renewable forest and wood products industries that are not usually accessible to school groups due to safety precautions.”
The VR Pine Story - The Green Triangle | Mount Gambier, South Australia
In February 2019, the renewable pine tree cycle was captured within the vast Green Triangle plantations. Spatial data planning using LiDAR and drones, soil surveys, foliar nturient sampling and more was captured as a part of the capturing of the pine forest and wood story. Together they will form the 30 year pine story in 2 minute video, virtual tours and 'blank' 360 photos for schools to 'hotspot' important factors about the plantation at each stage for use as student assessment tools.
Agroforestry - Trees at Work on the Farm - Cressy, Tasmania
Filming was conducted at the Private Forest Tasmania (PFT), CSIRO and University of Tasmania's research study site to complement and add virtual and immersive experiences for students studying the ForestLearning resource "Agroforestry: Trees at work on the farm". Martin Moroni, PFT and farmer and land owner of Formosa Farm, John Heard, were interviewed and will lead students on a virtual tour of the Formosa Agroforestry trial site and outline the research findings and benfits of the use of trees on the sheep and mixed cropping farm. For teachers who attended the National Association Agricultural Educators conference 2018, and visited Formosa on a conference field tour with ForestLearning, will see their own experience in a virtual platform through these tools.
Be the first to use ForestVR - Sign up to be a ForestVR Trial School!
The ForestVR Toolkit will be available to schools to use in July 2019. ForestLearning would like to invite interested schools to sign up to trial these immersive learning resources in their classrooms before they go live. If you are interested in trialing them in term 2, please contact Beth, manager of ForestLearning: firstname.lastname@example.org
ForestVR - how will the tools be accessible to use in classrooms?
The tools produced will be uploaded to the ForestLearning website (www.forestlearning.edu.au) and also published on a number of other platforms, including YouTube360 and Vimeo. They will be compatible to use on VR Headsets, iPads, and PC and Mac computers, making them accessible in any classroom.
Who is developing the accompanying teaching and learning resources?
The teaching and learning resources are being written and developed by experienced, practicing classroom teachers in partnership with the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria and the Design and Technology Teachers Association of Victoria to ensure they are useful teaching and learning tools, aligned to the Australian Curriculum.