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Spanning the Spectrum with Public Science


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Spanning the Spectrum with Public Science

  1. 1. PUBLIC SCIENCE Spanning the Spectrum with PUBLIC SCIENCE Kimberly Kowal Arcand • September 28, 2012 Chandra X-ray Center/Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Cambridge, MA USA
  2. 2. PUBLIC SCIENCE NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory Orbits ~1/3 of the way to the moon. Studies the high-energy regions of the Universe including black holes, exploding stars and colliding galaxies.
  3. 3. PUBLIC SCIENCE Chandra has imaged the spectacular, glowing remains of exploded stars, and taken spectra showing the dispersal of elements. Chandra has observed the region around the supermassive black hole in the center of our Milky Way, and found black holes across the Universe. Chandra has traced the separation of dark matter from normal matter in the collision of galaxies in a cluster and is contributing to both dark matter and dark energy studies. As its mission continues, Chandra will continue to discover startling new science about our high- energy Universe.
  4. 4. PUBLIC SCIENCE Electromagnetic Spectrum & NASA’s Great Observatories
  5. 5. PUBLIC SCIENCEChandra Digital & Online ProjectsDiversifyingSocial media & mobile platforms: Blogs,Photo Blog, Podcasts (HD), Twitter,YouTube, FB; Space scoop for kids; Signlanguage; audio files for Braille projects.Longevity6,000 public images fully tagged withmetadata/AVM (GoogleSky, MicrosoftWWT, Flickr, etc.)EngagementTopic-based content portals (LearnAbout Black Holes, SNR-), Interactiveweb & 3D (Cas A), openFits, user ratings,etc.MultimodalMulti-user multi-touch platforms(such as MS Surface) Kim Arcand
  6. 6. PUBLIC SCIENCEResearch and Methodologies: Aesthetics & AstronomyStudying the public’s perception and understanding of astronomical imagery across multipletraditional and non-traditional venues and platforms, including mobile and web platforms. Kim Arcand
  7. 7. PUBLIC SCIENCEResearch questions:• How much do variations in presentation of color, explanation,and scale affect comprehension of astronomical images?• What are the differences between various populations (experts,novices, students) in terms of what they learn from the images?• What misconceptions do the non-experts have aboutastronomy and the images they are exposed to?Does presentation have an effect – whether aesthetic orin terms of learning?
  8. 8. PUBLIC SCIENCEOutcomes:• Providing context for the image is critical to comprehension.• Experts prefer text that is shorter/to the point; novices prefernarrative expository style to accompany image.• A sense of scale with the images is helpful for comprehensionat all levels of expertise.• Experts and novices view the images differently. Novicesbegin with a sense of awe/wonder, and focus first on theaesthetic qualities. Experts wonder how the image wasproduced, what information is being presented in the image,and what the creators of the image wanted to convey.• Experts are much more likely to view blue as hot than arenovices; about 80% of novices see red as hot compared to60% of experts.R
  9. 9. PUBLIC SCIENCEApplying the results in Chandra EPO products:
  10. 10. PUBLIC SCIENCE Latest data analysis includes evidence for understanding the effectiveness of an astronomy exhibition in terms of gauging how much visitors have learned; what type of story format may be best for engaging the visitor/participant learning; and what type of platform may be best for implementation. To be submitted, Curator Papers/articles at
  11. 11. PUBLIC SCIENCE From Earth to the Universe (FETTU) – – IYA 2009 cornerstone project – Unique model for astronomy outreach: • Distributed Curation • Global to Local Methodology • Non-traditional locations for astronomy outreach
  12. 12. PUBLIC SCIENCE FETTU results were inspiring: Over 1000 locations in ~70 countries (translated into over 40 languages) Still ongoing in 2012.
  13. 13. PUBLIC SCIENCE Public art “ artwork that has been planned and executed with the specific intention of being sited or staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all.” Below: The Gates by Christo and Jean-Claude; Big Yellow Rabbit by Florentijn Hofman; Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoo
  14. 14. PUBLIC SCIENCE Equivalent for science? Public science = “science outreach that has been conducted outdoors or in another type of public or accessible space such as a public park, metro stop, library etc. with the intention of engaging the public.”
  15. 15. PUBLIC SCIENCE Past examples include: • Science City (New York: 1994-1995) • Science on the Buses (UK, Canada, others) • Science Festivals: – Long tradition of these in European & other countries. – US catching on: USA Science & Engineering Festival, World Science Festival, etc.
  16. 16. PUBLIC SCIENCE From Earth to the Universe (FETTU) – – IYA 2009 cornerstone project – Unique model for astronomy outreach: • Distributed Curation • Global to Local Methodology
  17. 17. PUBLIC SCIENCE FETTU results were inspiring: over 1000 locations in over 70 countries (text translated into over 40 languages.) Images courtesy of the From Earth to the Universe project
  18. 18. PUBLIC SCIENCE From Earth to the Solar System (FETTSS) – A collection of 90 images that cover astronomy, astrobiology, and planetary science – ~100 FETTSS sites worldwide – for the locations map, event photos, free materials.
  19. 19. PUBLIC SCIENCE• Researching in FETTSS & beyond – Who are we attracting in these – Do participants follow up “everyday situations”? with local science center, • More incidental visitors than library or other resources? intentional visitors with public – Is there any reshaping of the science? participant’s identity (or non- • Less-science-initiated audience identity) with science through than science public science? centers/planetariums?
  20. 20. PUBLIC SCIENCE• Preliminary data analysis (4/7 sites so far) – Corpus Christi, Texas: Mall (CC) – National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC: Outside on the National Mall (NASM) – Central Florida University: Campus Library (CFU) – Kansas City, Missouri: Union Station train station (KC) = Slightly younger audience than Chandra web site average, rated selves more novice in astronomy knowledge, more incidental visitors than those looking for astronomy, small learning gains, and increased interest.
  21. 21. PUBLIC SCIENCEAstronomy + Researching projects to take a more holistic view of astronomy, including and branching out towards chemistry, environmental science, earth science, art, etc. Kim Arcand
  22. 22. PUBLIC SCIENCEHolistic Approach. Here, There, & Everywhere(HTE) – Compares phenomena across scale (micro to macro) – Capitalize on eye-catching visuals with the power of analogy in public spaces (libraries, malls, etc.) – First exhibits launched in September 2012. –
  23. 23. PUBLIC SCIENCE Spring 2013. FETTU & FETTSS in book form
  24. 24. PUBLIC SCIENCE Public science on Wikipedia Arcand, K.K., Watzke, M., “Creating Public Science with the From Earth to the Universe Project” Science Communication. Vol 33(3) 398–407, Sept. 2011. Twitter: @kimberlykowal