Immersive 716: The North American Great Lakes

This is a picture of Lake Ontario from a rocky shoreline.

UB Libraries offers students the opportunity to work on a cutting-edge Virtual Reality (VR) project aimed at documenting the geologic features, history and environment of the Great Lakes and connecting waterways through 360° photographs. 

Project description


The Great Lakes are a dominant part of the physical and cultural heritage of North America. Shared with Canada and spanning more than 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) from west to east, these inland freshwater seas provide water for consumption, transportation, power, recreation and a host of other uses. The Great Lakes Region is the primary water source for more than 40 million people.

Two of the five Great Lakes are especially important to the Western New York region – Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

UB Libraries is partnering to offer students the opportunity to work on a cutting-edge Virtual Reality (VR) project aimed at documenting the geologic features, history, and environment of the Great Lakes and connecting waterways through 360° photographs. We are actively looking for students to join our team as content creators. If you are interested in history, geology, geography, environmental studies, virtual reality, photography, and the arts, please contact us. 

Groups of students will collaborate to identify historic landmarks, landscapes, environmental phenomena, and more within and along the Great Lakes to be documented using the Libraries’ 360° cameras. They may also choose from a list of significant places and features identified by project mentors. Students will then edit the footage using the Libraries’ professional editing software and incorporate relevant library resources (e.g. maps, government information, statistics, articles, etc.). Students will be expected to provide metatags for the files prior to being entered in the Western New York Library Resource Council’s ESIE Repository. Students can also earn a micro-credentialed badge in the process.

Students should come with an idea of what project site and/or topic they would like to pursue. Potential project sites include: 

Potential project sites include:

  • Times Beach Nature Preserve (Buffalo) 
  • Lake Erie-Niagara River Ice Boom (Buffalo) 
  • Buffalo Lighthouse (Buffalo) 
  • Niagara Gorge (Lewiston) 
  • Sandy Beach Living Shoreline Project (Grand Island) 
  • Silo City (Buffalo) 
  • Steel Winds (Lackawanna) 
  • Stella Niagara Shoreline Enhancement Project (Lewiston) 
  • Buffalo and Erie County Naval Park (Buffalo) 

Project outcome

  • Identify historical districts, areas, or landmarks within the city of Buffalo 
  • Learn to use a 360° camera, video editing software, and tagging conventions 
  • Edit footage using professional, studio-quality software
  • Submit finished footage into an institutional repository
  • Compose a narrative report or reflective essay about the project, or create an interactive webpage or graphic about the specific location using ArcGIS StoryMaps or Canva. This should incorporate related library resources.
  • Use your report, webpage or graphic as an artifact to upload to your Capstone or ePortfolio

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment About a semester; 3-5 months
Start time Anytime
Level of collaboration Individual or small group
Benefits Research experience
Who is eligible All undergraduate students 

Core partners

Project mentor

Carolyn Klotzbach-Russell

Social Sciences Librarian

University Libraries

422 Lockwood Memorial Library

Phone: (716) 645-9178

Email: cmklotzb@buffalo.edu

Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

  • Before beginning this project, students should download the Insta360 app.
  • Students come with an idea of what project site and/or topic they would like to pursue from the list in the Project Description section above. Students should also conduct initial research on their site/topic of interest.