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.

To situate watersheds in the context of the student’s lives, Elspeth used Google TourBuilder, to guide students on a trip from their homes to the Hall’s watershed, the Strawberry Creek watershed.  They explored how watersheds are important habitat for local plants and animals, how urban watersheds are managed and how they can be affected by human activity.

On the second day of evaluation, visitors were invited to try the Shaping Watersheds sandbox exhibit which had been recently installed at the Hall.  Located in the Science on a Sphere room, evaluators wanted to explore how supplementary visualizations could support sandbox exploration.  Visitors young and old alike enthusiastically dug into the exhibit, sharing their perspective on its meaning and value, along with suggestions for improvement.

While some visitors were participating in the Shaping Watersheds evaluation, others were giving feedback on a list of possible choices for the interactive portion of the DIY Lakes iPhone app that is currently in development and that will follow the at-home inquiry format of DIY Nano and DIY Sun Science.

Audience Viewpoints Consulting (AVC) is preparing written reports on the formative evaluations and we are looking forward to integrating the findings into the project’s learning resources!

The LHS LakeViz evaluation team, ready to deliver and evaluate watershed materials (L to R):  Sarah Reed (LHS), Maia Werner-Avidon (LHS), Steve Yalowitz (AVC), Lisa Newton (LHS), Erin Wilcox (AVC), and Elspeth DeShaw (LHS). Photo credit: Sherry Hsi (LHS)
The LHS LakeViz evaluation team, ready to deliver and evaluate watershed materials (L to R): Sarah Reed (LHS), Maia Werner-Avidon (LHS), Steve Yalowitz (AVC), Lisa Newton (LHS), Erin Wilcox (AVC), and Elspeth DeShaw (LHS). Photo credit: Sherry Hsi (LHS)

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