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Virtual experience motivates real writing!

Last week we collaborated with the Antarctic Heritage Trust team to create a writing experience both virtual and real. Young writers from Year 7 to Year 10 from 5 different schools came to Rangiora to explore Antarctica through VR, photos, dress-ups and imagination. The writing that followed blew us away ( like the Antarctic wind!)


Language experience activities are a way of engaging young people that can lead to meaningful writing. For this experience, we engaged our senses and brought in new specific vocabulary so that when the writing challenges arose the young writers were able to draw on these to step into personas, or closely describe a scene, create an ode, or compose either a list or instructional poem. Many of these pieces of writing will appear in a special feature in Write On Issue 61, Super Senses.



Immediately after the Hillary’s Hut – Antarctica Virtual Reality Experience our young writers recorded their own sensations, impressions and thoughts in words.

Here are a few quotes from these journals:

“Isolated, Alone, nowhere to run to, nowhere to go.” Mischa
“It really felt like I was transported to Antarctica. The thing I didn't expect was the wind just constantly howling outside.” Sam
“ Isolated, I feel Isolated the rooms are so empty I can actually hear myself think”. Ropeta
“The VR was really quite incredible. It gave me a sense of what it was actually like to be a part of this expedition. Being in the actual rooms made me realise how tight of a squeeze it must have been for 23 people. But as well as that, VR is not perfect. It was always funny when I tried to lean on something and nearly fell over because there was nothing there. Same for when I put my virtual hands on something or in something. It felt so real that I thought that I was actually doing it.” Raff
“I felt like I was having a dream where I could control everything I did and remember it too” Owen
“I remember entering the base, it looked like something from a movie.” Alex
The VR was like being taken to a completely different world. It was amazing to see how they would’ve lived in Antarctica, the most unlivable but beautiful place in the globe. “ Kaylee
“Far away, isolated, alone.” Eva
“I was startled to FInd out that whales would swim past the window when the ice melted and penguins would be there when the ice froze over” Beren
“I felt a sense of appreciation as I stood in my VR set. Those men battled so hard for so long and I’m very happy that they did succeed at the end.” Tom

A huge thank you to the Antarctic Heritage Trust NZ for sharing this event. Antarctic Heritage Trust is currently touring Hillary’s Hut – Antarctica Virtual Reality Experience around schools and community groups and events in New Zealand. Book here: https://nzaht.org/share/virtual-reality/


If you'd like to combine it with our writing workshop then be in touch regarding costs and availability. schoolforyoungwriters@gmail.com


Thank you to Waimakariri Libraries and Waimakariri Creative Communities for supporting our masterclass programme.


(c) Write On 2023




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