A visit to the historically accurate HMB Endeavour replica in Sydney is well worthwhile if you wish to understand the harsh realities of the perilous journey Lieutenant James Cook undertook during his first voyage to Australia, during 1768-1771. Exploring the cramped confines below deck, while imagining what three years aboard this vessel would be like, makes you appreciate the ease of modern travel – especially by sea. Since 2005, the museum has hosted tens of thousands of school students for a visit aboard the HMB Endeavour and now, the Virtual Endeavour program allows you to digitally explore the vessel – even if you are a student sitting in a classroom thousands of kilometres away…
The original HMB Endeavour
The HMB Endeavour was one of the first scientific research vessels. It was originally commissioned to view the 1769 Transit of Venus which subsequently helped scientists all over the world determine the scale of the Universe. Using the best telescopes of the time, scientists observed the 1769 Transit of Venus which enabled them to determine the distance between Venus and the Earth. From there scientists used complex mathematics to determine the distance between Earth and the Sun which was previously defined as 1AU.
Rebuilding the HMB Endeavour
The HMB Endeavour replica was finished in 1994 and is one of the most historically accurate replicas in existence. It took six years, over AU$17 million and countless hours of research to get it right, with the most challenging aspect being the complex 18th-century rigging. The replica has circumnavigated Australia, been used in movies and brings history to life to thousands of people every year.
The Virtual Endeavour program: bringing the HMB Endeavour to schools across Australia
A 360° photo up the rigging on the HMB Endeavour replica with Pippa Hambling. Image: Pippa Hambling/ANMM.
The museum endeavours to interpret this wonderful replica for all visitors. For school students, we have developed curriculum-linked programs to augment both historical and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas of learning while aiming to make the excursion experience as useful to teachers as it is enjoyable for their students. We also wanted to give all students the opportunity to experience the HMB Endeavour, regardless of their location in Australia, so the museum launched the Virtual Endeavour program.
Available now, school classes can receive a free, guided virtual tour of the vessel, investigating the various scientific challenges facing the crew in the 18th century. Students can explore how the scientific undertakings of HMB Endeavour influenced the knowledge and practices of the day and how these have affected the practice of sciences today. The virtual tours are interactive and engaging, using a variety of teaching strategies and content variations to customise the experience for students of all ability levels.
‘Hot spots’ within the digital tour allow students to look more deeply into specific objects and themes through the use of image, video and text, while a special application allows students to ask direct questions of the facilitator. The tours provide six themes through which to explore the vessel – lightning, anchors, scurvy, Linnaean classification, the transit of Venus and scientific collaboration – each of which is mapped to the Australian curriculum.
Teacher and guide feedback on the Virtual Endeavour
Very well presented tour with an extensive amount of information. – Liam D. Jensen.
This is a fabulous initiative and offers broad scope for differentiation of learning based on year levels and curriculum focus. – Sally-Anne Robertson.
Great! The second best option to actually being there onboard. Wonderful for those who can never make it here, or to give them a realistic taste before arriving. – Mark H.
— Pippa Hambling, Virtual Endeavour project officer
Want to find out more or book an excursion for your school/learning group? Visit our website for details.
This program is collaborative work with CSIRO Data 61, assisted by the Australian government through the Department of Communication and the Arts’ Catalyst—Australian Arts and Culture Fund.