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AR Sandbox Featured at the White House Water Summit 2016!

The Lake Viz project was well represented at the recent Whit House Water Summit this past week!  UC Davis was the star here:  Oliver Kreylos and Louise Kellogg represented the KeckCAVES along with Geoff Schladow from TERC.  They showed off the AR Sandbox which has been very popular with science museums and public outreach events that address issues concerning watersheds and lakes in a fun, hands-on way.

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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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.

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

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Global Lake Warming Trends

Did you dive into a lake this summer expecting teeth-chattering cold water, and instead found it surprisingly warm?  Scientists are finding that the world’s largest lakes are getting warmer.  While this might seem nice for summer lake swimming, lake warming has much more severe consequences for water quality and lake ecosystems.

A recent article in the National Geographic column “Water Currents” describes research being conducted on global trends in lake temperatures. Scientists studying lakes from around the world, including Lake Tahoe, are finding that over the past 25 years lake temperatures have been increasing.  Increasing lake temperatures can cause water quality problems and have serious ecological consequences.  Check out this article for more information on how climate change is impacting lakes around the world.

Global trends in seasonal nighttime lake surface temperatures, 1985-2009. Yellow and orange symbols indicate lakes that warmed over this time period. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Originally pubished on