AARNet connects Tassie students to Museum Robot for virtual Melbourne Cup Day history lesson

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Phar Lap's heart 1932

HOBART, Australia – 4 November, 2013. A partnership between Australia’s Academic and Research Network (AARNet), Independent Schools Tasmania and local broadband provider TasmaNet will enable Year 7 history classes at Fahan School in the Sandy Bay suburb of Hobart, Tasmania to connect to the Museum Robot Project at the National Museum of Australia (NMA) in Canberra tomorrow, Melbourne Cup Day, for a pre-race virtual tour of the Museum’s Flemington exhibition that includes Phar Lap’s heart.

Sharon Johns, Middle School Coordinator and Year 7 History teacher at Fahan School says the virtual excursion to the National Museum is an important part of the Year 7 curriculum.

“Accessing primary evidence about the history of the Melbourne Cup is difficult for Tasmanian students.  However, this excursion gives our students the opportunity to see, interact with and ask questions about several historical artefacts, all which relate to the history of the Melbourne Cup.  This makes the research ‘real’ for the students, rather than reading from a printed page.”

The Museum Robot’s innovative mobile telepresence technology will allow the students to navigate their own 360 degree panoramic camera view of the exhibits from a web browser,  zooming in on objects that interest them, such as Phar Lap’s heart – one of the treasures of the National Museum’s collection, and accessing video of Phar Lap racing in 1930. They will also explore displays illustrating the cultural side of racing during the Great Depression and interact with museum educator Robert Bunzli in real time, just as they would if they were physically present in the gallery.

“Students always love hearing about animals and the parts they have played in Australian history. Horses are a particular favourite of course, and most of them have heard of Phar Lap but don’t know anything about him. And the somewhat gruesome nature of a horse’s heart suspended in fluid adds a certain spice to the experience!” said Bunzli.

AARNet and TasmaNet are providing the high speed broadband connection between the Museum Robot at the National Museum and Tasmanian students at Fahan School.

AARNet’s Education Outreach Manager Nick Cross said, “The collaborative spirit within AARNet’s research and education community is outstanding and we’re proud of the outcomes our engagement strategy delivers for our connected content specialists, learners, educators and researchers. At an infrastructure level, interactive and immersive learning opportunities like this are made possible by end to end high capacity, low-latency R&E networks.”

“Since connecting to AARNET we have been exploring ways of offering new and engaging learning experiences to our students. Our connection now makes opportunities such as virtual excursions a real possibility”, said William Lelong, Fahan School Head of E-Learning and AV Services.

This term Fahan has Kinder to Year 2 classes attending a virtual Story-telling Workshop at the Sydney Opera House and Years 5 and 6 attending a virtual Drama Workshop at the Sydney Opera House. Language class links with a school in Japan are also being established.

Tony Crehan, Executive Director of Independent Schools Tasmania said, “This is a great example of the exciting teaching and learning opportunities the collaboration between our organisation, AARNet and TasmaNet is bringing to a growing number of independent schools in Tasmania.”


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About AARNet

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 38 Australian universities and the CSIRO.

AARNet provides high capacity internet and other advanced communications services for the nation’s research and education community, including universities, health and other research organisations, schools, vocational training providers and cultural institutions. AARNet serves over one million end users who access the network for teaching, learning and research. More information can be found at AARNet ( ) or connect with AARNet on Twitter (


Media Contact

Jane Gifford

+61 2 9779 6960

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