New Science, New Media: An Assessment of the Online Education and Public Outreach Initiatives of The Dark Energy Survey

Wolf, Rachel C. and Romer, A. Kathy and Nord, Brian and Perez, Santiago Avila and Bechtol, Keith and Biron, Lauren and Cawthon, Ross and Chang, Chihway and Das, R. and Ferté, Agnès and Gill, Mandeep Singh and Gupta, R. R. and Hamilton, Stephanie and Hislop, Jessica May and Jennings, Elise and Krawiec, Christina I. and Kremin, Anthony and Li, Ting S. and Lingard, Tim and Möller, Anais and Muir, Jessie and Nagasawa, Daniel Q. and Ogando, Ricardo Lourenco Correia and Plazas, Andres A. and Noarbe, Ignacio Sevilla and Suchyta, Eric and Zhang, Yuanyuan and Zuntz, Joe (2018) New Science, New Media: An Assessment of the Online Education and Public Outreach Initiatives of The Dark Energy Survey. ArXiv.


Download (4MB) | Preview
Official URL:


As large-scale international collaborations become the standard for astronomy research, a wealth of opportunities have emerged to create innovative education and public outreach (EPO) programming. In the past two decades, large collaborations have focused EPO strategies around published data products. Newer collaborations have begun to explore other avenues of public engagement before and after data are made available. We present a case study of the online EPO program of The Dark Energy Survey, currently one of the largest international astronomy collaborations actively taking data. DES EPO is unique at this scale in astronomy, as far as we are aware, as it evolved organically from scientists' passion for EPO and is entirely organized and implemented by the volunteer efforts of collaboration scientists. We summarize the strategy and implementation of eight EPO initiatives. For content distributed via social media, we present reach and user statistics over the 2016 calendar year. DES EPO online products reached ~2,500 users per post, and 94% of these users indicate a predisposition to science-related interests. We find no obvious correlation between post type and post reach, with the most popular posts featuring the intersections of science and art and/or popular culture. We conclude that one key issue of the online DES EPO program was designing material which would inspire new interest in science. The greatest difficulty of the online DES EPO program was sustaining scientist participation and collaboration support; the most successful programs are those which capitalized on the hobbies of participating scientists. We present statistics and recommendations, along with observations from individual experience, as a potentially instructive resource for scientists or EPO professionals interested in organizing EPO programs and partnerships for large science collaborations or organizations.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Astronomy Education Research
Newsletter Reports Resources
Depositing User: Mr Saeed Salimpour
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2018 03:43
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2018 03:43

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item