Long-Term Audience Impacts of Live Fulldome Planetarium Lectures for Earth Science and Global Change Education
Digital Earth visualization technologies, from ArcGIS to Google Earth, have allowed for the integration of complex, disparate data sets to produce visually rich and compelling three-dimensional models of sub-surface and surface resource distribution patterns. The rendering of these models allows the public to quickly understand complicated geospatial relationships that would otherwise take much longer to explain using traditional media. At the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS), we have used such visualization technologies, including real-time virtual reality software running in the immersive digital "fulldome" Gates Planetarium, to impact the community through topical policy presentations. DMNS public lectures have covered regional issues like water resources, as well as global topics such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and resource depletion. The Gates Planetarium allows an audience to have an immersive experience-similar to virtual reality "CAVE" environments found in academia-that would otherwise not be available to the general public. Public lectures in the dome allow audiences of over 100 people to comprehend dynamically changing geospatial datasets in an exciting and engaging fashion. Surveys and interviews show that these talks are effective in heightening visitor interest in the subjects weeks or months after the presentation. Many visitors take additional steps to learn more, while one was so inspired that she actively worked to bring the same programming to her children's school. These preliminary findings suggest that fulldome real-time visualizations can have a substantial long-term impact on an audience's engagement and interest in science topics.
Yu, K. C., Champlin, D. M., Goldsworth, D. A., Raynolds, R. G., & Dechesne, M. (2011). Long-Term Audience Impacts of Live Fulldome Planetarium Lectures for Earth Science and Global Change Education. In J. B. Jensen, J. G. Manning, & M. G. Gibbs (Eds.), AS