Immersive Ecological Experience

We are developing a virtual ecological simulation that will run in Purdue's Envision Center for Data Perceptualization. Participants will use the Envision Center's 'cave' to immerse themselves in the modeled environment which will include realistic environmental settings and mobile organisms. This simulation experience will allow students to see multi-dimensional interactions in real-time, giving them a better understanding of the underlying principles. The simulation will be controlled by parameters set by the participants from within the simulation using a personal digital assistant (PDA). The participants will be able to change their 'position' and hence their perspective within the simulation as it is running. The dynamic nature of the simulation will intuitively convey the complex and dynamic nature of ecological systems and populations.

Flying the simulation

The first use of the Immersive Ecological Experience will be a module that will explore the Equilibrium Theory of Island Biogeography. This module is currently under development, and will be used to teach a class in Biodiversity ENTM 320 in the spring semester of 2007. Additional modules for using the virtual reality simulation environment are being explored.

The Immersive Ecological Experience Team

Top row from left: Dr. Jeff Holland (Asst. Prof., Entomology) is the project lead, Matt Brisbin (Senior, Computer Graphics Technology) is modeling the animals and environment, Dr. Laura Arns (Assoc. Dir., Envision Center) is the Envision Center and technical liaison.

Bottom row from left: Leslie Osborn (Senior, Biology) is providing research support for the model, and David Foldes (MS candidate, Computer Graphics Technology) is programming the virtual environment.

This project is supported by an ITaP (Information Technology at Purdue) Digital Content Development Grant. Christian Reiner of the Center for Instructional Excellence is providing help with evaluation of the project.

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