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Virginia Tech Theater Project Helps People Visualize Flood Scenarios

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Scene from a performance in the 'Science Collaboration' series. Todd Nicewonger / Courtesy of Daniel Bird Tobin


In a theater at Virginia Tech, audience members are invited to stand with their eyes closed and imagine themselves on a beach, wading into the ocean.


But then this relaxing visualization takes a turn. Their guide, performer Daniel Bird Tobin, asks them to imagine they're still standing in water, but not on the beach. They're in floodwater that has inundated the university drill field, bookstore and graduate center –

"all places where, on a hundred-year flood scenario, you could have waist-deep water," Tobin says.

His presentation, called "Flooding the Beach," is based on maps and data by Virginia Tech researcher Peter Sforza.

It's part of a larger effort to help people connect with science in a more visceral way.

"I think people learn, truly learn, on a deep level when they're able to find a personal connection to research," Tobin says. "And poster presentations are fantastic at getting a lot of clear data out there, but sometimes when you are able to use performance or other art forms to communicate science, people can find an emotional hook that brings them into the work."

So Tobin aims to get people's bodies, emotions and minds engaged with climate science.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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