Students visit parliament from the classroom

MP Louise Upston showed students how they can get inside parliament themselves, through the Parliament XR 360° virtual reality tour.

MP Louise Upston met with Cambridge students recently to show them how they can get involved in Parliament.

Visiting Year 9 students at St Peter’s School on March 29, the Taupo electorate MP demonstrated how to use the new Parliament XR virtual reality app.

Launched last year, the free app uses the latest virtual reality technology to give users the impression they’re walking around Parliament House themselves. Starting outside on the street, users can explore into the iconic debating chamber, with 360-degree view giving the option to look up at the building’s iconic ceilings or down at the historic green or red carpet. Users can also focus on points of interest and learn more about the features of the debating chamber, with video and sound bites incorporated into the experience.

“It’s about, how do we make parliament more accessible to you,” Upston said, explaining that the demographic she hears the least from is people under 30.

“It’s a real challenge to make sure I hear your views.”

Upston showed students how smartphones could be turned into a virtual reality device, simply by popping them into a basic, low cost headset created by Spark. Upston left several headset packs with the school so students could continue to explore parliament.

“Just because you’re not 18 yet doesn’t mean you don’t have a voice,” Upston told students. “You’re not powerless, you can contact an MP and tell them your views. … That’s part of this discussion today, to say I work for you just as much as I work for anyone else.

“And hopefully by having a look at this virtual reality tour that will give you more of a sense of it.”

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