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Gold Coast students visit Mars, the Sahara and rainforests without leaving school in new hi-tech Pod

Toni Hetherington, March 22, 2018 7:51PM Kids News

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Coomera Anglican College students use interactive screens in The Pod. media_cameraCoomera Anglican College students use interactive screens in The Pod.


Reading level: orange

Gold Coast primary students are being sent to Mars in the morning, being caught in the middle of an earthquake at lunch and sitting in the heat of the Sahara Desert in the afternoon — all without leaving their school grounds.

Learning at Coomera Anglican College has taken a very modern twist since the opening of its newest building The Pod six weeks ago.

The future-focused centre features the latest in immersive* and interactive* technology, designed to take learning out of the traditional classroom, with robotics, interactive touch screen displays, 3D printing, writeable walls, smart glass and an indoor drone flying space, making primary students the architects* of their learning.

Coomera Anglican College on the Gold Coast has built a future focused technology hub called The Pod for $4.5 million media_cameraThe students can work individually or as a team within the interactive pod.

The climate controlled, 360-degree Imaginarium is the centrepiece of the new learning space, featuring six laser projectors and cinema quality surround sound creating a seamless 360 degree sensory experience without the need for wearable technology.

Specifically designed for primary students, the temperature-control technology adds another dimension to the sights and sounds students experience as they are teleported* from the icy climate of Antarctica to the sweltering* Sahara.

Coomera Anglican College on the Gold Coast has built a future focused technology hub called The Pod for $4.5 million media_cameraThe Imaginarium at Coomera Anglican College’s new technology centre can transport students to rainforests, Mars, the Sahara or many more locations.

Coomera Anglican College Principal, Dr Mark Sly said real footage is combined with computer imagery for a realistic learning experience.

“The Pod is a first for any educational facility in Australia, which we believe will meet the needs of our students in a rapidly changing technological landscape,” Dr Sly said.

��In a world where the future of education will soon see virtual and augmented reality*, robotics, 3D printing, laser cutting and drones as the norm, we identified the need for a facility that was flexible enough to move and adapt to change, but also have some key design elements to address some of the current and expected technological advances,” he said.

The Pod took 12 months to build and cost $4.5 million.

“It’s worth it. We need our students to learn and get them excited,” Dr Sly said.

Coomera Anglican College on the Gold Coast has built a future focused technology hub called The Pod for $4.5 million media_cameraWriting on the walls is encouraged in The Pod.

He revealed the idea for The Pod came when he visited an airport in Stockholm “and they had all these tiny little rooms where you could become immersed in different environments”.

The school then worked with three audio visial companies — 5th Corner, Immersaview and You Tour (Bunker Media) – to develop the concept.

“It is great that we can now transport our students to the middle of a rainforest or underwater at the Barrier Reef like that,” he said.

“It’s about being in the moment and feeling part of the environment to help them learn.

“We also thought it was important for our students to be able to use the type of technology they are seeing around them and in the media.

“We know that the graduates of 2030 are already starting in our college and want to equip them with the skills they will need – problem solving and creative thinking – for when they leave school and enter the workforce.

“We can’t imagine what technology will be available then but those skills will be highly relevant.”

Coomera Anglican College on the Gold Coast has built a future focused technology hub called The Pod for $4.5 million media_cameraProblem solving is a key skill being learnt in The Pod.

Grade 6 student Imogen Hanley said “this wondrous facility makes learning fun, highly interactive and inspiring. I am thrilled and grateful to be a student at Coomera Anglican College where I get to use my imagination and creativity every day in the Pod”.

Dr Sly said the process of hands on learning was vital to modern schooling.

“Our Year 5 students are studying natural disasters and with the Pod they can sit in the room and be involved in an earthquake or a flood without any risk.

“They will see the earth open up in front of them and buildings disappear while cars fall into holes.”

The school has already started developing a new building for updated technology. Dr Sly said they hoped to open that centre in two years.


immersive: generating a 3D image

interactive: two-way flow of information between a computer and a computer-userarchitects:
teleported: being transported across space and distance instantly

sweltering: uncomfortably hot

augmented reality: technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world



1. Futuristic learning

Read or listen to the article carefully and complete the following activities.

— What’s new at Coomera Anglican College?
— What features does this new facility have?
— Why was this Pod installed? Write a list of reasons.
— Where did the idea for this come from?
— What benefits will there be for the students?

After reading about this Pod, what else would you like to know? Write at least four questions.

The following question openers may help you to begin your questions (You do not have to use them).

How does…, Do you…, What if…, Can it…, Will it…

Extension: You are a school leader at this college, taking prospective parents, who are hoping to enrol their children at your school, on a tour of your school. Write a paragraph of what you might say when you show them the ‘Imaginarium’. You need to explain what it is, what it can do and how it is benefiting students.

Time: Allow 40 minutes

Curriculum links: English, Digital Technology

2. Where to?

If you were a student at this school and had a session in the Imaginarium, where would you like it to ‘take’ you? Or what would you like to experience? Write your suggestion in a letter addressed to your teacher explaining why you would like this experience and how it will help you with your learning. Draw a picture of what you think this experience would be like.

Extension: We often get asked ‘What happened today?’ by our parents or carers after a day at school. Imagine you were asked this after being in the Imaginarium. Write an interesting answer to this question by detailing what you ‘saw’ or where you ‘went’ in the Pod. Ensure you use lots of adjectives to describe your experience. Describe your experience as though it was real. For example, ‘After lunch we went to Antarctica and saw …’

Time: Allow 30 minutes

Curriculum links: English, Digital Technology, The Arts – Visual Arts


With a partner see if you can you identify all the doing words/verbs in this text? Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb- make sure it still makes the context it was taken from.

Try and see if you can replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP


Please do not use one-word answers, as we will not publish them. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting about the article. Use lots of adjectives.

Extra Reading in technology