FARLabs goes to Japan

La Trobe recently took its FARLabs program to Japan, with Australian and Japanese students joining forces to learn about survival on the moon

The School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences recently took its FARLabs program to Japan, with Australian and Japanese students joining forces to learn about survival on the moon.

FARLabs, which stands for Freely Accessible Remote Laboratory, is a virtual laboratory platform that connects high school students to state-of-the-art university equipment for free. The program has been running for ten years and has been accessed by over 700 schools in Australia and overseas.

Thanks to a philanthropic grant from The Telematics Trust, and networking opportunities via the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), four Japanese high schools have been added to that list including Ikubunkan Global High School, Higashi-Fukuoka High School, Seisho Kaichi Junior and Senior High school, and Sapporo Kaisei Secondary School.

Professor Brian Abbey, FARLabs co-founder, said the program was a hit with Japanese teachers and students.

“As part of the visit, Japanese high school students were able to remotely access La Trobe’s experimental equipment using FARLabs. They worked online with Australian students to conduct experiments to explore what it would take to survive on the moon; collaborating on designing a moon base and learning about protection from gamma rays.”

“We are so grateful to our Japanese partner schools for hosting the FARLabs program and for the wonderful reception we had from both teachers and students,” Professor Abbey says.

Dr David Hoxley, FARLabs co-founder, said the program has transformed the way students from around the world can learn and engage with science.

“The FARLabs team is committed to making science more accessible and we’re proud to be able connect schools across the world through a shared interest and passion in STEM subjects.”

“This is the first year we have expanded our range of experiments on offer to include space education and I am delighted many of the students we met in Japan are developing an interest in this fascinating area.”

FARLabs will continue to roll-out in Japanese schools this year, with six events planned during 2024. The team is also working to adapt the FARLabs program to the Japanese school curriculum.

“We look forward to continued connections between students in Japan and Australia through this initiative,” Dr Hoxley says.

FARLabs is funded by philanthropic grants from both the Telematics Trust and GHD Foundation and have been aided by both JAXA: The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions (DJSIR) in expanding their school network in Japan.