In this blog we hear from Anzac Gallate, a member of the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s 2020 Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ to the Antarctic Peninsula, who is the creative visionary behind My Explorer Journal, one of the most exciting Inspiring Explorers™ outreach projects to date.
One of the key aspects of Inspiring Explorers Expeditions™ is that the young explorers share their incredible experiences on the Ice, and how they engaged with the spirit of exploration, through a variety of outreach projects.
Even before he left on his long-held dream to visit the Antarctic, Anzac knew that he wanted incorporate the augmented reality and virtual reality material he planned to collect there in his outreach programme. However it wasn’t until he was in managed isolation following his return from the expedition (while New Zealand was also in Level 4 lockdown), that his idea for My Explorer Journal started to percolate.
“I wanted to focus on bringing the viewer along with me on the journey, rather than presenting at them about my own experiences. I also wanted to tie in the idea of students creating exploration for themselves in their own day-to-day lives, which seemed even more important when everyone was stuck in lockdown. The idea to create some kind of activity book, journal or guide alongside my AR and VR content ticked all the boxes. I started planning out pages and activities and it snowballed from there.”
Anzac originally planned to use a third party app to facilitate his AR and VR content, but after discussions with the Trust, it was decided it would be best for My Explorer Journal to sit on a new purpose-built AR App, which was being created for the Trust by Staples VR, and would also include the Antarctic 3D Artefacts experience. “Creating our own app allowed us to be a lot more flexible and tied the content in more closely with the Trust’s other projects. There were a few interesting technical challenges along the way that was new for me and I found myself a little in the deep end at times. But that’s often where the most exciting stuff happens and you learn the most.”
Along with the incredible AR and VR content Anzac captured in the Antarctic, My Explorer Journal is packed full of information about the Antarctic landscape, ecosystem and wildlife, historic explorers and bases, science, and the Inspiring Explorers Expedition™. The journal also has lots of fun exploration activities, and features several of Anzac’s original drawings. “I always loved drawing animals and nature scenes as a kid, and not long before the expedition I had picked up drawing again, mainly buildings and plant scapes. I was super excited at the thought of some of my doodles going into My Explorer Journal and wanted to tie them in with the task of students drawing in their own journals. Most of the content I was drawing for the first time so it was a fun challenge. I feel there’s still a bit more room to improve on the animals though!”
Anzac says he was “blown away” by the excitement and engagement of the students at the launch of the My Explorer Journal experience on the AR App at a Christchurch school in New Zealand in early 2021. “It was incredibly rewarding. I loved seeing how many of them were determined to scan every image and read every word. They were even reluctant to skip sections when I prompted them to check out the 3600 videos. I was around their age when I became interested in the Antarctic, which was a big part of my motivation for creating the booklet. I’m tremendously stoked that I can ignite my passion for Antarctica and exploration in others through My Explorer Journal.”
The opportunity to go on an Inspiring Explorers Expedition™, and working with the Trust and Staples VR to develop My Explorer Journal helped to solidify Anzac’s decision to study marine science and ecology at the University of Otago. “It’s been incredible to be able to link some of the things I’m currently learning to my real life experience in the Antarctic. I also find myself viewing new information through the lens of both exploration and science communication. How can I experience this in person someday? How can I share this with others?”
Anzac says without the “monumental support of the Antarctic Heritage Trust, and Staples VR”, he wouldn’t have been able to create the My Explorer Journal, let alone get to the Antarctic in the first place.
“It has been an immense privilege to work alongside the incredible whanau at both organisations. I’m very keen to continue working in the area of science communication and thanks to Antarctic Heritage Trust and Staples VR, I’ve been able to take a big first step into that realm. The opportunity the Trust provides to young people through their Inspiring Explorers ™ programme is nothing short of life changing.”
How to access the app
The app is available to download for free from Google Play or the App Store.
The application is only available on surface tracking Augmented Reality compatible devices,
visit our store pages on your device to see if your device is compatible