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Virtual reality to increase kids' salmon smarts

Holiday fishing expeditions need not be the extent of kids learning about the fruits of the sea thanks to a new initiative of the Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia (PIEFA).

Students can now gain a better understanding Australia’s $3 billion fishing industry with the release of ground breaking, interactive classroom resources launched in Tasmania this week by PIEFA.

Focussing on Atlantic Salmon production as a case study, the resources are designed for students from grades 4-8 and are explicitly written for Australian curriculum outcomes in the learning areas of science, technology and geography and have a distinct STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) flavour.

The learning resources allow children to, through a 360 VR headset, fully immerse themselves in the salmon production process, including watching eggs hatch and diving into an offshore pen with 20,000 live salmon.

“As with all our PIEFA resources, they are designed with the student in mind and in a way that supports a teacher’s program accountabilities,” PIEFA Chief Executive Officer Ben Stockwin said.

A 2012 research project funded by PIEFA and conducted by the Australian Council of Education Research, revealed real gaps in student and teacher knowledge in relation to fish production in Australia.

For example:

  • 2/3 of student’s surveyed believed Atlantic Salmon was a wild caught fish.
  • Teachers identified that their knowledge was weakest in relation to fishing and aquaculture production out of all of the primary industries sectors.

Appropriately the resources were officially launched in Tasmania, where most of Australia’s Atlantic Salmon is farmed, at the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) bi-annual conference in Launceston.

The resources, funded by PIEFA through its membership, which includes the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, and with the support of Tasmania’s largest salmon producer, Tassal, feature online teacher guides, downloadable workbooks for students, assessment tools and are accompanied by eight (8) innovative Virtual Reality 360 videos that allow students to view every aspect of salmon production from egg to plate.

The resource are freely available via PIEFA's resource portal www.primezone.edu.au (search ‘Salmon’ under PIEFA resources).

PIEFA is a national not-for-profit company, limited by guarantee funded with membership from the industry, education and government sectors (including the federal Department of Agriculture).

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