Category Archives: Meetings

2014 Advisory Board Meeting: LakeViz visits the Great Lakes Science Center

The Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC) hosted the 2014 LakeViz Advisory Board Meeting on May 29 in Cleveland, Ohio, next to beautiful Lake Erie. Joining the meeting were advisors Donna Cox (University of Illinois), John Baek (NOAA), Kate Haley-Goldman (Audience Viewpoints Consulting), and Val Davillier (Great Lakes Science Center).

Given that the LakeViz3D grant is in its third year and nearing completion, we asked the advisors to help distill the intellectual merits of the project accomplished to date and to identify synergistic activities and resources that could be used to carry the work into its next stage.

All advisors noted that the primary challenge faced by the project – applying research-grade tools and making data available for informal science education in science centers – is an important and common problem across scientific disciplines. For example, Advisor Cox relayed the long-term struggle of planetariums developing practitioner-friendly tools to visualize large astrophysical datasets.

LakeViz members attended the Advisory Board meeting at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and were impressed by the Center’s commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship, including their 225kW wind turbine and on-site array of solar panels.
LakeViz members attended the Advisory Board meeting at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and were impressed by the Center’s commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship, including their 225kW wind turbine and on-site solar panel array.  Photo courtesy Heather Segale.

During the discussion, the group identified a greater need to document the process of connecting research tools (and especially visualization tools) to end user, in an effort to make institutions embarking on such projects aware of the level of commitment needed to be successful, as well as the pitfalls they may encounter.

To make progress on this goal, advisors suggested (1) convening a museum consortium to identify and discuss the research tool to end-user process, common problems, and success stories and (2) developing decision trees and training documents to disseminate to the greater community. Accordingly, the LakeViz3D team has been working on documenting our process for designing and creating 3D visualizations for educational institutions. We are looking forward to sharing our work in an upcoming publication!

Besides the advisory board meeting, the LakeViz team also toured the Great Lakes Science Center and all of the wonderful exhibits it has to offer, including the ‘Great Lakes Story’ exhibit aboard the W.G. Mather. In addition, GLSC partners such as the Cleveland Water Alliance and Stone Laboratory inspired us with their work on sustainable development and freshwater field research education, respectively. We ended our trip with a fun biology activity, led by an educator from the Great Science Academy, a teen maker program at GLSC: we used laser-cut cardboard parts and LEDs to create DIY fish with biological adaptations of our own design.

We gratefully thank Advisor Val Devillier and Kirsten Ellenbogen, President of the Great Lakes Science Center for sharing their space and hosting the meeting.

LakeViz Advisory Board meeting attendees toured the many creative freshwater ecology displays and interactives in the ‘Great Lakes Story’ exhibit aboard the W.G. Mather (http://www.greatscience.com/exhibits/steamship-william-g-mather/history-facts.aspx).
LakeViz Advisory Board meeting attendees toured the many creative freshwater ecology displays and interactives in the ‘Great Lakes Story’ exhibit aboard the W.G. Mather (http://www.greatscience.com/exhibits/steamship-william-g-mather/history-facts.aspx).  Photo courtesy Heather Segale.
The Great Science Academy, a teen maker program at GLSC, led us through a fun biology activity, in which we used laser cut cardboard parts and LEDs to create DIY fish.  The activity is used to teach students about evolution and adaptation.
The Great Science Academy (GSA), a teen maker program at GLSC, led us through a fun biology activity, in which we used laser cut cardboard parts and LEDs to create DIY fish. GSA uses the activity to teach students about evolution and adaptation.

3D Camera Technology and Filming Tahoe

3D works best for scenes that show depth, action, and a sense of awe. Flying between mountains, skimming the surface of the lake, or going deep underwater are the quintessential 3D shots. Shooting these aerial scenes used to require a crazy and highly skilled camera person with an equally crazy, skilled pilot. But given the demand for 3D video, it’s no surprise that inventive people created gadgets where once dangerous shots can now be safely taken with remote controlled hexacopters.

For our new 3D movie about Lake Tahoe, we’re able to collaborate with people who can get these beautiful, dynamic shots.  The next 3D experience at TERC will feature Tahoe underwater.  As our own Heather Segale noted in her article for Lake Tahoe News, we’ll still use tried and true divers to get many underwater shots.  Brant Allen and Katie Webb will dive into Tahoe with 3D cameras (generously donated by Go Pro) this spring to give viewers a unique look into Lake Tahoe’s depths.  They will be guided by Steve Andersen, a 3D movie specialist based out of Tahoe.  He created a weighted 3D camera that can sit in a shallow stream and film Kokanee salmon as they swim past. This simple device doesn’t compare, though, to his other wickedly cool 3D camera gadgets that can get beautiful aerial shots without risking life and limb (pictured below).  He attended our winter meeting at the Tahoe Environmental Research Center in Incline Village, NV, to show them off!  We were all very impressed with his creative solutions and ability to get the perfect shot.  We look forward to working with our collaborators and hope we can create a fantastic experience for the visitors to TERC.

IMG_3845Above:  Steve shows off an interchangeable camera stabilizer for his hexacopter (on the right).  The hexacopter can fly for up to 10 minutes on a charge and take breathtaking aerial 3D movies without putting life and limb in danger. (On the left, below Steve’s elbow, you can see the weighted underwater camera.)

Below:  Steve shows off cameras that are ideal for shooting 3D time lapses.
IMG_3850

Picture of a server network

Dealing with Big Data

Picture of a server network

Since we’re creating 3D visualizations from large datasets, this raises a very interesting larger question of data management for projects like ours. We (the world at large, and our project in particular) are moving into the era of “Big Data”. As you may know, NSF now requires a data management plan with all proposals (our proposal was submitted prior to this requirement). At the time when we submitted the proposal, I would have said, truthfully, that the data we are using comes from a variety of sources that follow standard archiving and preservation practices, and that we would not duplicate those efforts.
Continue reading Dealing with Big Data

Panoramic picture of Champlain from ECHO

Lawrence Hall of Science Visits ECHO Lakes Aquarium and Science Center

Designing compelling 3D visualizations and museum demonstrations cannot be accomplished without meaningful connections between project partners. As part of understanding a context and geographic place, two members of the Lawrence Hall of Science, Sherry Hsi and Frank Kusiak, ventured out to Burlington, VT to see Lake Champlain and the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. Julie Silverman, Molly Loomis, and Phelan Fretz were wonderful hosts as we engaged in a synergistic design process we like to call “walking in each others’ shoes” to build shared understanding and collaboration between project partners. We learned so much from their considerable experience in informal science interpretation and demonstrations about Lake Champlain.

This post is the first of several that will focus on our visit to ECHO. We loved ECHO’s lake public program demos and that’s where we’ll start our account of our visit.

Panoramic picture of Champlain from ECHO
A beautiful morning on ECHO’s deck. You can clearly see New York’s Adirondacks and several islands in Champlain.

Continue reading Lawrence Hall of Science Visits ECHO Lakes Aquarium and Science Center

Lake Viz 3D Advisory Board

It was a busy three days in May 17 to 19, 2012! The first project advisory board took place during some incredibly clear and mild Spring weather, bringing PIs, staff, and advisors to Davis, California and then Incline Village, Nevada. Advisory board members included Valence Davillier, VP and Director of Exhibits from Cleveland’s Great Lakes Science Center; Joe Atkinson, Director of Great Lakes Program at the University of Buffalo; Tom Moher, a computer/learning scientist from the University of Chicago’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory; Kate Haley-Goldman, evaluation expert at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado; John Baek, an education researcher from NOAA, and Donna Cox (who joined remotely via a networked iPad), Professor, University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Director of the Illinois eDREAM Institute, and Director of Advanced Scientific Visualization Laboratory..

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