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21 October 2014

Robots and rivers make unlikely partners, but they came together this week for some Murray–Darling Basin students.

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, for the first time today, connected the museum's robots with students in their classroom to learn about the historical use of water across the basin.

MDBA education director Will Inveen launched the Telepresence Robot pilot program as part of National Water Week (19-25 October 2014).

‘This is an exciting and unique way for us to extend the MDBA education program to students living in different parts of our vast river system,’ Mr Inveen said.

‘Using robot technology developed by the CSIRO, we're able to take students on an interactive, customised tour of Murray–Darling Basin exhibits, ranging from the variability of water over the past 300,000 years, to the importance of water quality and its role in the location and prosperity of human settlements.

‘Innovation and technology have played a major part in our water history and today, we're using these to teach our future custodians of the basin about the importance of water sustainability.’

National Museum special education projects manager Robert Bunzli said the joint project was an example of how organisations could partner with the National Museum to use unique robot technology.

‘These highly innovative education programs are being delivered Australia-wide, enabling students to control their own view of the museum gallery during the virtual tour, look at embedded digital content and 'put up their hand' to ask questions of the tour guide,’ Mr Bunzli said.

The MDBA's Telepresence Robot pilot program builds on several other innovative education tools, which overcome the challenge of connecting communities over long distances, such as the smartphone app, the Questacon Murray–Darling Basin science theatre show and the Basin Champions videoconferencing program.

If judged to be a success, today's trial may lead to more sessions being offered to schools and communities across the basin in 2015.

NMA: please contact Tracy Sutherland, (02) 6208 5338 / 0438 620 710 or

MDBA: please contact the media team on (02) 6279 0141 or

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