Evaluating watersheds at the Lawrence Hall of Science

In late April, more than fifty visitors participated in a formative evaluation of LakeViz 3D visualizations, tabletops and exhibits at the Lawrence Hall of Science (“the Hall”).

On the first day, LHS educator Elspeth DeShaw led two groups of eager students (grades 2-5) through a multimedia lesson on watersheds, which was designed to explore how best to combine 3D visualizations with hands-on tabletop activities.

The students first soared through the Lake Tahoe watershed via the 3D ‘Drop of Water’ visualization.  They then created their own watersheds with a hands-on activity which used newspaper, waterproof tablecloths, and instant tea grounds to create topography, observe water’s paths and explore how pollution might affect the watershed.

LHS educator Elspeth De Shaw prepares a group of students for the 3D Drop of Water visualization while evaluators Steve Yalowitz and Maia Werner-Avidon look on.

LHS educator Elspeth De Shaw prepares a group of students for the 3D Drop of Water visualization while evaluators Steve Yalowitz and Maia Werner-Avidon look on.


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Preparing for sandbox launch at the Hall

The Lawrence Hall of Science (“the Hall”) staff has been busily preparing its Shaping Watersheds exhibit for prime time. The Hall shop staff did a wonderful job customizing and adding key modifications: re-locating the ‘Drain’ button for improved ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access, adding a transparent lid and new frame to enable two modes of use (facilitated and unfacilitated), and adding a USB port in the former location of the original drain switch. The USB port allows a keyboard to be connected to access the computer within the cabinetry.

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A modified version of the ‘Shaping Watersheds’ exhibit is installed at the Lawrence Hall of Science. The modifications include improved ADA access and a removable, facilitation-flexible lid. A small stepping stool (seen in bottom left) allows little visitors to access the sandbox bin.


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Lake visualizations with Google geo-tools

This spring, LakeViz team members and Cal Academy colleagues participated in a day-long workshop to explore Google’s newest geo-tools.  The workshop was led by the enthusiastic John Bailey, Program Manager for GeoEducation from Google Earth’s Outreach team. Through a collaboration with the California Academy of the Sciences, Ryan Wyatt, Director of the Morrison Planetarium and Science Visualization, served as our gracious host  for the training.

One of the main challenges the LakeViz3D team has faced has been how to make research-level visualization tools (e.g., Crusta, LIDAR Viewer) — that produce high-fidelity imagery —  usable for educators and non-technical staff to create their own 3D educational visualizations.  The workshop was, in part, intended to explore whether relatively familiar, user-friendly interfaces such as Google’s geo-tools could serve as more accessible entry points for educators to create supplementary visualization tools for their audiences.

Participants learned how to create collaborative maps using Google Maps Engine (GME).  We also explored lakes-related maps published in the GME Maps Gallery, such as a global map of lakes and reservoirs and changes in Lake Erie algal levels over time.

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The new Google Maps Engine allows users to import, stylize and share a wide range of spatial datasets.


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3D Sneak Peek at ECHO

Over two days of formative evaluation, more than 300 guests at ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center previewed a new 3D guided tour of  the Lake Champlain Basin. Nina Ridhibhinyo, ECHO’s group  programs manager, guided these eager participants through space and time as part of a 25-minute 3D presentation on the history of dam development and flooding on the Winooski River. They explored Vermont’s wetlands and flood zones, delved into the historic floods of 1927 and 2011, and visited mills, hydroelectric, and flood control dams throughout Vermont.

Nina Ridhibhinyo narrates  a 3D guided tour of the Lake Champlain Basin.  (Photo courtesy of Audience Viewpoints Consulting.)

Nina Ridhibhinyo leads a 3D tour of the Lake Champlain Basin.                                                    (Photo courtesy of Audience Viewpoints Consulting.)

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3D Movie of Lake Tahoe Set to Make a Big Splash This Summer

This summer visitors to the Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) will have the unique opportunity to “Go Jump in the Lake” without even getting wet.  A new 3D movie, produced as part of the LakeViz project, will dive under the water’s surface to observe the different organisms that live in Lake Tahoe and to explore the physics that governs the lake habitat.

The movie, “Let’s Go Jump in the Lake,” will feature unique footage of Lake Tahoe and its inhabitants, all in 3D. Stunning time-lapse sequences show changes in the lake throughout the seasons. TERC divers have captured subsurface video that includes kokanee salmon spawning, the extent of invasive species such as watermilfoil and Asian clams, schools of native fish, and underwater research projects. For close-up shots of the animals that live in Lake Tahoe, TERC set up aquaria for fish, Mysis shrimp, and zooplankton such as Daphnia. Computer generated animations are used to illustrate concepts—such as lake mixing—that  are difficult to capture on film.

Steve Andersen with Omnidual Media is filming and managing the post-production of the film. Since the movie will be presented in 3D, all the video equipment is specialized for the shoot. Steve has an arsenal of tools including several UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) designed to carry two cameras for the challenging 3D aerial shots.

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3D Videographer Steve Andersen uses an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle equipped with dual cameras for 3D video of Lake Tahoe


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