Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon. Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

World's largest living coral reef aquarium wins international education award

Media release
21 September 2011

The national education centre for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has scooped a prestigious international award for its outstanding educational services.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville, Queensland, received a Pinnacle Award from the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration in the United States of America.

Voted by teachers from across the USA, the award recognises the outstanding educational content of Reef HQ Aquarium's Reef Videoconferencing Program.

Minster for Environment and Sustainability Tony Burke congratulated Reef HQ Aquarium on receiving the award for the third consecutive year.

"It's a great honour for the Reef HQ Aquarium, the world's largest living coral reef aquarium," Mr Burke said.

"Reef HQ Aquarium was the only content provider outside of the United States and Canada to receive this prestigious award, based on evaluations from teachers.

"They competed against a high calibre of participants including NASA's Digital Learning Network at the Kennedy Space Center, which received an honourable mention.

"Reef HQ Aquarium provides world class living exhibits, complemented by thematic and interactive educational experiences.

"These are an important learning tool for school students and helps raise awareness about the challenges facing the Great Barrier Reef."

Reef HQ Aquarium's Reef Videoconferencing Program enables students from around the world to be virtually transported to the coral reef and predator exhibits.

It uses state-of-the-art technology to provide unique teaching and learning experiences, including information delivered live to students by a scuba diver.

Students view live underwater video footage from a scuba diver, they can ask questions of the diver directly and receive answers.

Reef Videoconferences are supported by comprehensive teaching materials, and educate students about a range of marine issues.

During 2010-11, Reef HQ Aquarium facilitated 162 Reef Videoconferences reaching 5855 students across Australia and the world.

The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration gives teachers access to videoconferencing for live interactive content, professional development, and online collaborative learning environments. The Centre partners with nearly 200 national and international content providers.