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Virtual Watersheds: An Immersive Experience at the Confluence of Water and Society

Virtual Watersheds: An Immersive Experience at the Confluence of Water and Society
Fig. 1

Stroubles Creek, whose watershed area is basically the Town of Blacksburg (TOB) and Virginia Tech (VT), is considered impaired and much of the stream is actually buried in town and on campus. It is hard to get people to “care” about a stream when they don’t see it, don’t even know it is there, and know nothing about it. Stroubles Creek is the reason that TOB and VT are even located at their current locations (drinking water and sewage), but it is ignored by most of the public and students that live and work within the watershed. Stroubles Creek and its watershed are perfect for developing, testing, and perfecting a Virtual Watershed exhibit for use in the ICAT Cube to educate students and the general public on the importance of small streams. Our overall goal is to develop three Virtual Watershed exhibits in the Cube related to Stroubles Creek and its watershed for use in research, education, and outreach. As such we will build 3D virtual tours of sections of the watershed for use in the ICAT Cube that are transportable to VT facilities at local schools. The intersection of Stroubles Creek-TOB-VT provides a perfect microcosm to study and develop tools to improve education and management at the interface of human and natural systems (Fig. 1).