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Plant science leaps into the virtual world

The Virtual Plant Cell will take people on exciting and immersive journeys through plant science in National Science Week 2017.

The ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology’s groundbreaking virtual reality experience lets audiences explore the sub-microscopic inner world of a plant, using virtual reality technology.

“We’re taking full advantage of the incredible opportunities virtual reality technology is now offering. To take people to places where they can’t normally go, like inside of a cell,” said Karina Price, Science Communications Officer for Plant Energy Biology, who is leading the project.

VPC will make appearances during National Science Week festivals around Australia this August 2017.

Local Plant Energy Biology research will be showcased at each location.

Users can interact with the virtual cell and learn about the complex processes that scientists study.

“In Adelaide, VPC will be showcasing how our research is helping plants to cope with salty soils. Visitors can even help the plant cell survive salt through a virtual reality game!

“In Perth the public will learn about plants proteins, while in Melbourne we’ll be focusing on phosphate in plants. In Canberra, audiences can explore what makes up the cell.”

Plant Energy Biology created VPC to better communicate its research.

The Australian research Centre is focused on improving plants by understanding and fine-tuning how they use energy.

“The world needs to dramatically increase its food production for the future. Our research aims to better understand how plants create and use energy, in order to improve them for agriculture. We want the community to understand how we do this, and why.

“Understanding complicated cell biology becomes simple when you can see first-hand what goes on inside of a cell. VPC immerses people in that world.”

VPC’s stunning visuals, designed by Western Australian artist Peter Ryan, and it’s fun, interactive parts, created by award winning Unity Developer Richard England (Reflex Arc), have already been capturing attention around the world.

“Plant Energy Biology are ahead of the curve here,” said Dominic Manley, from Augmented and Virtual Reality Labs (AVRL), who has led technical management of the project.

“Virtual reality is forecasted to be a significant disruptive force in education and other sectors over the coming years.”

VPC will be entering Australian schools in 2018, pioneering the way for curriculum-linked virtual reality education.

“We’re passionate about educating the community and highlighting the importance of plant research. What better way to do this than immersing people in our world?” said Miss Price.

The Virtual Plant Cell can be seen at Science Alive (South Australia), Market on the Mind (Victoria), Science in ACTion (ACT) and Perth Science Festival (Western Australia).

The Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology’s Education and Outreach activity is funded by the Australian Research Council.

This National Science Week project is supported by the Australian Government.

Source: ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology

Video supplied by Plant Energy Biology

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