CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee — The Tennessee Aquarium has continued its use of virtual reality immersive learning with its new exhibit, “Tiny, But Mighty Important,” that uses holographs to tell a story.
Opened in mid-November, the exhibit allows visitors to watch a short presentation that appears to float in mid-air to illustrate the devastating impact that silt and erosion can have on freshwater ecosystems.
The imagery hovers in a kiosk over a bed of actual river rocks and is viewable from all angles. As the animation begins, viewers see a 3-D projection of life in a healthy stream, with fish laying eggs and aquatic insects crawling among the stones.
Later, erosion from nearby hills sends silt into the water, clouding the scene, smothering the eggs and eventually causing the animal life to disappear.
The holographic water quality display is just one component of the newly designed River Journey attraction, which replaces the Aquarium’s Barrens Topminnow lab exhibit.
Guests couldn’t enter the previous exhibit, but the new space is fully explorable and emphasizes education through interactivity.
As they enter the new exhibit, guests are greeted by a large screen with looping footage of Southeastern aquatic wildlife.
Visitors also are able to get an up-close look at tanks exhibiting Barren’s Topminnows, interact with a rotating display that offers another simulation of silt in a waterway and read graphics discussing topics such as the negative impact of nonpoint source pollution such as urban and agricultural runoff.