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An immersive VR experience designed at the University of South Australia aims to make children better prepared to act safely during bushfires.
Once they've donned a VR headset, kids find themselves taking care of a friend's dog, Bella, just as a fire unfolds. They're presented with problem-solving activities and the goal of getting themselves and the dog out of harm's way. After completing each task, they receive immediate feedback to reinforce what they've learned.
The educational tool was developed for children aged 10 to 12 and is part of a PhD project by Safa Molan. Her research suggests that carefully designed immersive VR can engage children and improve their learning outcomes regarding bushfire safety.
Following a trial at Mawson Lakes Primary School, Molan found that over 80% of children felt more confident to calmly evaluate their options and make better decisions to protect themselves from a bushfire.
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