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Telepresence Launches Australian Students into Space

May 18, 2011
at 9:03 am PST

You heard it here first: a new space race has begun. Alright, maybe it’s more accurate to say it very well could begin, thanks to Australia’s new Pathways to Space program.

Hosted by the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, the initiative aims to enhance Australia’s engineering and science education. Pathways to Space gives secondary school students the chance to develop space robotics and search for life on Mars. And, with telepresence, even students living deep in the outback can participate.

Through classrooms outfitted with Cisco TelePresence, or interactive videoconferencing (IVC), students at the museum or in their own connected schools can interact with astrobiologists and robotics engineers around the world. They’ll work together to organize and execute simulated robotic missions to the red planet. Participants can also drive virtual Mars rovers before trying to control the real ones in the museum’s Mars Yard.

Among the array of unique education opportunities we’ve been able to furnish with telepresence, I find this project especially exciting. It gives students a lifelike look at world-changing work in which they could engage as adults while also connecting them to people on the cutting edge of scientific research and experimentation. How inspiring must that be for young science lovers?

To find out just how successful it is at building young scientific minds, check back here in a few years: the Australian government is conducting a concurrent study of the impact the telepresence connection to professionals in the field has on increasing Australia’s pool of scientists and engineers.

I can’t wait to see how this develops! What about you? We would love to hear your thoughts on the use of telepresence and other technologies to engage students and create innovative learning experiences.

Interested in other telepresence stories? Check out the telepresence blog!

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