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Cyberweeds: The Virtual Dandelion

Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, the Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
and the CAVE Student Led User Group

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Project Contacts: Peter Sforza and Dr. Kriton Hatzios

click here for a printable format of this page(pdf)


The Virtual Dandelion is a teaching application for the visualization of several key aspects of plant biology using the CAVE™ technology at Virginia Tech and VRML for the web. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) was chosen for this project because of its widespread recognition as a common weed in urban landscapes, the unique structural form, and its specialized adaptations to an intensively managed environment.

The CAVEtm (Cave Automated Virtual Environment) provides an immersive environment for visualization, which may enhance a viewer’s perception and retention of the information presented. This may be particularly important in teaching scientific or technical material containing complex concepts and a highly specialized vocabulary. In addition to being immersive, the CAVE is interactive. An electromagnetic sensor updates the scene according to the position and movements of the user. The user interacts with the virtual environment using various control devices including a wand controller, gloves, and LCD stereo glasses.

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(temporarily out of order, but you can try it anyway) Click here for the Virtual Farm (vrml)

VRML, pronounced either "vee-are-em-ell" or "VER-mul", is an abbreviation for Virtual Reality Modeling Language. VRML is the standard for interactive 3D objects on the internet. VRML worlds are viewed with a VRML browser, which is built into some of the standard internet browsers or it can be added as a plug-in for older browsers. A detailed description of VRML can be found here.

Take a look at the setting for the Virtual Dandelion: the (temporarily out of order, but you can try it anyway)Virtual Farm (vrml), based on the Randolf Aigner farm in Henrico County, Virginia. To view this, a VRML browser such as is needed.


The material covered by this teaching application is intended to serve as a lecture supplement on weed biology and will include the following topics:


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