ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, will be celebrating the opening up its newest exhibit space, Action Lab Saturday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m..
ECHO’s new Action Lab exhibition, located on the top floor at ECHO will be open every day! What is an Action Lab and why create one? It is a space specifically designed to encourage and teach citizen science participation to teens and adults using a combination of state-of-the-art technology and hands-on experiments!
”ECHO’s decision to build this space has evolved over the past ten years. We listened to the community and we heard them say the same thing, they all want Lake Champlain to be a healthy resource for everyone, including all the animals and plants that call it home. The Action Lab allows the community to be engaged in making a positive difference in the health of the Lake. They will be able to fully understand all the Lake’s dynamics – from the origin of a blue-green algae bloom to the threats to the spiny softshell turtles that inhabit the Lake,” said ECHO Executive Director, Phelan Fretz.
Julie Silverman is ECHO’s Director of New and was the developer and construction manager for the Action Lab.
“What the new Action Lab allows us to do is to continually pioneer ways to engage our guests in local issues facing our community and the diverse breadth and beauty of the Lake Champlain Basin. By using cutting edge technology tools and ever-changing citizen science programs we are able to introduce dynamic ways our citizens can be involved in Lake stewardship,” said ECHO’s Director of New, Julie Silverman.
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..
The augmented reality (AR) sandbox is a hands-on exhibit that teaches geographic, geologic, and hydrologic concepts. It combines a real sandbox with virtual topography and water by using a 3D camera and a digital projector.
Users create topography models by shaping real sand. In real time, the sand surface is scanned into a computer from a camera above, and then an elevation color map, topographic contour lines, and simulated water appear based on the surface below.
The Augmented Reality Sandbox was designed to be used as a hands-on exhibit in science centers and museums with minimal supervision. Accompanying materials will encourage museum visitors to explore:
1) How 3D landforms are expressed on 2D maps, and
2) How landforms influence water flowing through a watershed.
Visitors will be encouraged to construct landforms, observe how they interact with simulated water, and relate what they see to real topographic maps.
On April 5th, the Lake Viz tabletop activity group solicited feedback and friendly criticisms from the rest of the Lake Viz team and other education/museum professionals. As we progress in our grant, updates and feedback allow us to focus on the confluence of content and potential museum activities. We invited representatives from the Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Davis KeckCAVES, UC Davis TERC, Exploratorium, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, and the California Academy of Sciences. The team presented our current work in progress on four clusters: water, landforms and scientist tools, ecology care, and stewardship. With these clusters, we presented prototype activities for seiche waves/thermoclines, LIDAR, topography, ecology, and lake pollutants using a variety of media/interactive types such as tablet interactives, working models, augmented reality, games, an interactive sand box, and of course, 3D visualizations.