13th Symposium on Education


Linking Interactive Concept Models into the Visual Geophysical Exploration Environment (VGEE)

Daniel J. Bramer, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL; and R. Pandya, M. Marlino, D. Murray, J. McWhirter, S. Wier, T. Scheitlin, M. K. Ramamurthy, and R. B. Wilhelmson

A critical element toward enhancing the functionality of the Visual Geophysical Exploration Environment (VGEE) is the integration of concept models into the visualization tool. The visualization tool is based on Unidata’s Integrated Data Viewer (IDV) – a Java-based three-dimensional visualization environment for a variety of geoscience data, including gridded model data (forecast or research), surface observations, and satellite and radar images. Concept models are stand-alone Java modules that allow students to investigate fundamental atmospheric processes like stability in virtual environments. Their integration into the IDV is an early example of the extensibility of the IDV.

This extensibility is based on a valuable feature of the IDV – the user interface and visualization features can easily be modified in appearance and functionally to support a variety of audiences. Because of this, users of the IDV range from high school students to university faculty and researchers. The VGEE implementation of the IDV offers extra options to support undergraduate, non-science majors. The key option is the ability to insert special probes into the visualization environment that can extract specific data and send it to a concept model. These concept models illustrate specific fundamental principles of weather (e.g., temperature, condensation, etc.). The student is able to either manipulate the probe or elements of the concept model (or both) to discover relevant relationships in the atmosphere and ocean. The VGEE and IDV are also clients of the Thematic Real-time Earth Data Distributed Services (THREDDS) project, whose goal is to provide students, educators and researchers with coherent access to a large collection of real-time and archived datasets from a variety of environmental data sources at a number of distributed server sites. As a result, the VGEE concept models can readily be extended in the future to work with myriad datasets provided by THREDDS.

We will present elements of the VGEE and the concept models as well as early classroom test results/feedback.

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Session 4, University Educational Initiatives (Room 615/616)
Tuesday, 13 January 2004, 1:30 PM-5:15 PM, Room 615/616

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