The Virtual Storm: An exploratory virtual environment of a supercell tornadic thunderstorm for meteorological education
Faidley, Galen (2006) The Virtual Storm: An exploratory virtual environment of a supercell tornadic thunderstorm for meteorological education. Masters thesis, Iowa State University.
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The Virtual Storm application demonstrates that it is possible to create a photo realistic hands-on exercise to teach about severe weather using virtual reality. The driving motivation behind the Virtual Storm is to provide students with a hands-on means to learning about severe weather. In the past, providing students with a hands-on experience with tornadic thunderstorms was difficult due to the complexity of the systems, the lack of predictability, and the danger associated with the storms. However, hands-on experiences are considered an important teaching method. The Virtual Storm addresses the lack of hands-on experience through the use of computer graphics and virtual reality technology. Formal user studies were used to determine the effectiveness of the Virtual Storm as a teaching tool. The user tests consisted of comparing the results from a quiz taken after using the virtual storm with the same quiz taken after a lecture on severe weather. The study results show there was no measurable benefit of using the Virtual Storm on the quiz scores. However, the user tests may not have captured the true value of the Virtual Storm since they focused on short-term retention, and the strengths of hands-on experience are generally thought to improve long-term retention rather than short-term recall. The level of engagement demonstrated by the participants suggests that the tool is still a useful compliment to the lecture.
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