3D Virtual Environment Contest

[Application period is now closed. New contest will be announced in Spring 2016]

Model This!

Calling all interested students in grades 6 – 12 to participate in a contest to develop an idea for an immersive, 3D virtual environment for our CAVE. The Living Environments Laboratory uses our CAVE to visualize different things in a 3D virtual space, such as home spaces or hospital areas. While this contest doesn’t involve actual creation of the virtual environment, technical interest in and understanding of programming and virtual reality (a.k.a Unity, Maya, etc.) is highly encouraged. Contest participants will develop a concept proposal to showcase their idea for a virtual environment, as well as provide a visual snapshot of what the virtual environment would look like. Concept participants will be required to work with an adult sponsor (parent, teacher, or any other adult) to complete the work in this contest. The first 50 contest entries will be eligible for prize consideration. Subsequent entries will still be accepted and will receive a certificate of participation. A team of programmers and modelers will take the winning concept and create a 3D virtual environment, to be showcased in our CAVE in October as part of the 2015 Wisconsin Science Festival. This year’s theme for the Festival is “Made in Wisconsin”. Examples of other virtual environments previously shown in our CAVE include:

Living Environments Lab CAVE


Ski Hill

Ski Hill




Please visit our Videos page for demonstrations of the CAVE in action.



1st Place – $200, a private 30 minute premiere showing of the virtual environment (date & time TBD), & 1-2 meetings with the design team (date & time TBD)
2nd Place – $100
3rd Place – $50

Guidelines and Requirements

To remain eligible to win a prize from this contest, participants must comply with the following requirements:

  • Submit all required content (entry form and final submission) at the dates outlined and using the format specified
  • You must be a resident of Wisconsin
  • Work with an adult sponsor to help guide them through the design process – this could be a parent, teacher, or any other adult
  • Use their original ideas to create the concept proposal
  • Concept must be appropriate for people ages 4+

Other guidelines:

  • You may enter as an individual or as a team of up to three team members
  • Please limit the concept to: (1) an experience that could take place in the CAVE for a single person for approximately 60 seconds, or (2) an experience that could take place in the CAVE for five users for approximately five minutes
  • The physical CAVE is 10’ x 10’ x 10’, but the virtual space can be of any size and can have any physics that you want (ie, the physics in the environment could be like that of real life, or you could choose to be able to fly through space)
  • If your entry is judged the first place winner, all team members understand and agree that any and all submissions will become the sole property of the Living Environments Laboratory and will not be returned. All rights to use these ideas will be retained by Living Environments Laboratory.


  • May 6th – Entry Forms Due 
  • June 17th – Final Submissions Due
  • July 1st – Winners Announced
  • mid-July – (Winner only) Meeting with Modelers and Programmers
  • October 22-25 – Science Festival – showcase of completed project


To submit an entry form for the contest, please fill out and return this fillable PDF to lel@discovery.wisc.edu by May 6, 2015. Please name the PDF in the following convention: LastName_FirstName_EntryForm. An Entry Form is required to officially declare your entrance to the contest and to ensure you have completed the appropriate paperwork prior to beginning work.

Final Submissions

To submit your final submission, please return a PDF in the attached template to lel@discovery.wisc.edu by June 17, 2015. Please name the PDF in the following convention: LastName_FirstName_FinalSubmission. The final submission should be no more than two pages and should include your concept description, visuals of what the environment would look like, and a conclusion. The final submission will be judged and evaluated by Living Environments Lab staff members based on design and feasibility criteria.


Q: What are some examples of past virtual environments that have been showcased at the Wisconsin Science Festival? A: In 2014, the Living Environments Laboratory showed visitors two virtual environments. One environment was a virtual ski hill that users could ski down using body gestures. The other was a virtual portrayal of 3D scans of someone’s home. Other environments that have been shown in the past include a galaxy map and a kitchen space.


Q: How many visitors are anticipated to visit the Living Environments Laboratory during Wisconsin Science Festival and will see my virtual environment? A: It varies by year. In 2014, we had nearly 200 visitors through our space during Wisconsin Science Festival. In 2013, we had over 300 visitors. It’s a great opportunity to showcase your creativity! Please contact lel@discovery.wisc.edu with any other questions regarding the contest rules, guidelines, and timeline.