Environmental education is vital to foster a community of people dedicated to keeping the quality of their local water sources clean and safe and help them be better stewards of the earth. However, not every class has the resources to go on a field trip to visit local water sources such as their lakes or rivers or the tools to see the microbiology and micropollutants present in their local body of water. In order to help bridge the gap between environmental fieldwork and help teach K-12 students the importance of water quality, Aqua Explorer provides a fun, interactive way of learning about what is in their water while using IoT devices to bring them real-time information as well.
What it does
Children connect the Leap Motion to their personal or school computer and launch the game. In the game, they can grab multiple objects that represent micropollutants and microbiology within the body of water. The demo in this case uses objects found in Lake Huron, Michigan. Once children explore the water using Leap Motion, they have an option to contribute to the project by adding their local water bodies to the database. Using the Raspberry Pi kit that detects water temperature and humidity of the environment, they can add the data using an interactive map (see #What Next section).
How we built it
The simulation itself is built in Unity. It uses a surface level plane that replicates water physics, which allows us to showcase the water. The models themselves were built in Autodesk Fusion 360 and then changed into
Challenges we ran into
Rendering a realistic environment, especially with the water physics of the game, was rather difficult since it involved a lot of vector mathematics, which took up a great amount of time for the app and it was William's first-time with Unity. Since the objects were custom made, meshing the collision boxes with the objects was not ideal, which leads to them floating away unexpectedly. Setting up Raspberry Pi and figuring out how to connect it to wi-fi was quite time-consuming.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We have several 3D models that showcase the different types of living and non-living factors for water quality, including a complete Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether (PBDE) molecule.
What we learned
How to use Fusion 360 to create more complex shapes How to work with temperature and humidity sensors with Raspberry Pi. How to create a Unity game with the Leap Motion device.
What's next for Aqua Explorers
What we plan to do in the future is fix the collision boxes on the objects themselves, add realistic texture to the objects and parts of the environment, and have the objects dynamically float around in our Lake Huron demo. After that, we will add a REST API to connect our IoT device to the game to show real-time information. Also, an interactive map of the world to travel to different bodies of the world will be added as well.
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