The EVO project

What is the «EVO (Environmental Visualization Object) project»?

In this project we develop virtual (3D) representations of environmental objects, processes and systems (EVOs) using the free open source software «Blender». The EVOs may include layers of user interactivity that allow browsing through system states and visual modeling of system parameters.

Within the Department of Environmental Systems Science (D-USYS) at ETH Zurich such EVOs can be used in blended learning contexts in various courses for Bachelor and Master students. These blended learning contexts should help students building effective mental models of complex environmental processes and systems. In addition, EVOs can be generally used for visually communicating environmental sciences, be it for presentations, papers, project proposals etc.

Between 2012 and 2015 the project has involved lecturers from almost all institutes at the department and is currently funded by Innovedum (a fund established by the Rector of ETH to finance initiatives which explore new ways to sustainably improve teaching and learning).

How is the EVO project implemented?

Currently, EVOs are developed according to advanced teaching goals identified by a group of lecturers representing a broad field of topics, including soil science, agroecology, forest ecology, invasion biology, biosphere-atmosphere coupling, cloud dynamics and experimental design. We are constantly evaluating the use of the EVOs and possible future directions.

By now EVO development has produced many generic components that can be efficiently adapted to broader visualization needs at D-USYS in future. Also, training resources have been developed for future deployment of EVO development at D-USYS.