The ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology will take people on an educational journey through a plant cell - using virtual reality technology during next week’s National Science Week.
The Centre will launch the Virtual Plant Cell (VPC), a unique virtual reality experience that lets its audience explore the microscopic inner world of a plant at two key events in Perth as part of the science festival.
VPC allows users to interact with the plant cell and learn about the complex processes that scientists study, in a novel and engaging way.
“We decided to take full advantage of virtual reality technology and take the public to places where they can’t normally go, like the inside of a cell,” said Karina Price, Science Communications Officer for Plant Energy Biology, who is leading the project.
“With VPC a user can move across the inside surface of a plant cell membrane. They can peer into a chloroplast or watch as DNA swirls overhead in the nucleus. They can even help the plant survive challenges faced in its environment by controlling what happens in the cell.”
The project is drawing on the expertise of Plant Energy Biology scientists and on the Centre’s research.
“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.”
“Virtual reality presents an incredible way to showcase our science and is a great tool for educating the community and creating a dialogue about plant energy biology research,” she says.
The Centre hopes to secure the funding needed to continue VPC development to create an educational resource for teaching biology in schools.