New Science, New Media: An Assessment of the Online Education and Public Outreach Initiatives of The Dark Energy Survey
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.
Wolf, R. C., Romer, A. K., Nord, B., Avila, S., Bechtol, K., Biron, L., … Zuntz, J. (2018). New Science, New Media: An Assessment of the Online Education and Public Outreach Initiatives of The Dark Energy Survey. ArXiv E-Prints, 1804, arXiv:1804.00591.
Type of Publication
Wolf, Rachel C. | Romer, A. Kathy | Nord, Brian | Perez, Santiago Avila | Bechtol, Keith | Biron, Lauren | Cawthon, Ross | Chang, Chihway | Das, R. | Ferté, Agnès | Gill, Mandeep Singh | Gupta, R. R. | Hamilton, Stephanie | Hislop, Jessica May | Jennings, Elise | Krawiec, Christina I. | Kremin, Anthony | Li, Ting S. | Lingard, Tim | Möller, Anais | Muir, Jessie | Nagasawa, Daniel Q. | Ogando, Ricardo Lourenco Correia | Plazas, Andres A. | Noarbe, Ignacio Sevilla | Suchyta, Eric | Zhang, Yuanyuan | Zuntz, Joe
Graduate School of Education, Stanford University, | Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania | Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sussex | Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory | Institute of Cosmology & Gravitation, University of Portsmouth | LSST | Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago | Department of Physics, University of Michigan | Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh | Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London | Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Department of Physics and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University | Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Argonne National Laboratory, Leadership Computing Facility | Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University | George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy, and Department of Physics and Astronomy, Texas A&M University | Observat�orio Nacional | Laborat�orio Interinstitucional de e-Astronomia | Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology | Centro de Investigaciones Energ�eticas, Medioambientales y Tecnol�ogicas (CIEMAT) | Computer Science and Mathematics Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Nation(s) of Study
United States of America