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Virtual Puget Sound
What is being researched?
How immersive and desktop simulations of complex systems (physical oceanography of Puget Sound) can help users understand phenomena that have no directly perceptible form. How these simulations help students of all ages (grades 4 - university undergraduate) learn about the ocean. The relative advantages of simulated versus real experience when learning about the ocean. Whether interactive, highly visual simulations can help dyslexic children learn concepts and solve problems that would be difficult for them using text.
What are the expected outcomes and benefits?
We will learn the relative advantages of various "flavors" of VR for helping people understand complex natural phenomena, including research scientists and students of varying levels of knowledge and expertise.
What are the potential applications?
As a tool for visualizing scientific data. As a tool to be used in existing and new curricula at all levels. As a tool for decision-makers and the public at large to understand the ocean and threats to it.
What are some future directions?
We are extending the types of data we can visualize from physical properties of the ocean, such as tides, currents and salinity, to include some basic chemistry and biology, leading eventual to the simulation of food webs and their relations to physical oceanography. We have started to use VPS in classes, and will continue to build curriculum and speific lesson plans that optimize its effectiveness.
Who is working on it?
Bill Winn <billwinnhitl.washington.edu>, Peter Oppenheimer <peterhitl.washington.edu>, Yu-Chien (Nancy) Chen <nancyhitl.washington.edu>, Fritz Stahr, Christian Sarason, and Yen-Ling Lee.
Who is funding this effort?
Office of Naval Research