3D Visualization Tools for Enhancing Awareness, Understanding and Stewardship of Freshwater Ecosystems - Summative Evaluation Report
National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded an Informal Science Education (ISE) grant, since renamed Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) to a group of institutions led by two of the University of California, Davis’s centers: the Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) and the W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in Earth Sciences (KeckCAVES). Additional partner institutions were the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center (ECHO), Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) at the University of California, Berkeley, and Audience Viewpoints Consulting (AVC). The summative evaluation study was designed to examine how 3D visualizations could most effectively be used to improve the general public’s understanding of freshwater lake ecosystems and Earth science processes through the use of immersive three‐dimensional (3D) visualizations of lake and watershed processes, supplemented by tabletop science activity stations and a website. Two iconic lakes were the focus of the study: Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada, and Lake Champlain in Vermont and New York, with products readily transferable to other freshwater systems and education venues. The project included the development of 3D visualizations, hands-on activities as well as technology components, including apps for mobile devices. The purpose of the project was to implement, evaluate, and disseminate knowledge of how 3D visualizations and technologies could be designed and configured to effectively support visitor engagement and learning about physical, biological and geochemical processes and systems related to freshwater ecosystems. An additional part of the project was to evaluate how these technologies could be transferred more broadly to other informal science venues and schools for future career and workforce development in these critical STEM areas.