HCC: III: Small: MyDome – Defining the Computational and Cognitive Potential of Interactive Simulations in an Immersive Dome Environment

August 1st, 2009 - July 31st, 2013 | PROJECT

The MyDome project will bring 3D virtual worlds for group interaction into planetaria and portable domes. Advances in computing have evolved the planetarium dome experience from a star field and pointer presentation to a high-resolution movie covering the entire hemispherical screen. The project will further transform the dome theater experience into an interactive immersive adventure. MyDome will develop scenarios in which the audience can explore along three lines of inquiry: (1) the past with archeological reconstructions, (2) the present in a living forest, and (3) the future in a space station or colony on Mars. These scenarios will push the limits of technology in rendering believable environments of differing complexity and will also provide research data on human-centered computing as it applies to inquiry and group interactions while exploring virtual environments. The project proposes to engage a large portion of the population, with a special emphasis on the underserved and under-engaged but very tech-savvy teenage learner. Research questions addressed are: 1. What are the most engaging and educational environments to explore in full-dome? 2. What on-screen tools and presentation techniques will facilitate interactions? 3. What are the limitations for this experience using a single computer, single projector mirror projection system as found in the portable Discovery Dome? 4. Which audiences are best served by exploration of virtual hemispherical environments? 5. How large can the audience be and still be effective for the individual learner? What techniques can be used to provide more people with a level of control of the experience and does the group interaction enhance or diminish the engagement of different individuals? 6. What kind of engagement can be developed in producing scientific and climate awareness? Does experiencing past civilizations lead to more interest in other cultures? Does supported learning in the virtual forest lead to greater connection to and understanding of the real forest? Does the virtual model space experience excite students and citizens about space exploration or increase the understanding of the Earth's biosphere? The broader impacts of the project are (1) benefits to society from increasing public awareness and understanding of human relationships with the environment in past civilizations, today?s forests and climate change, and potential future civilizations in space and on Mars; (2) increasing the appeal of informal science museums to the tech-savvy teenage audience, and (3) significant gains in awareness of young people in school courses and careers in science and engineering. The partners represent a geographically diverse audience and underserved populations that include rural (University of New Hampshire), minority students (Houston Museum of Natural Science) and economically-distressed neighborhoods (Carnegie Museum of Natural History). Robust evaluation will inform each program as it is produced and refined, and will provide the needed data on the potential for learning in the interactive dome environment and on the optimal audience size for each different type of inquiry.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

My Dome Summative Evaluation Report

Team Members

Annette Schloss, Principal Investigator, University of New Hampshire
Kerry Handron, Co-Principal Investigator, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Carolyn Sumners, Co-Principal Investigator, Houston Museum of Natural Sciences


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: HCC
Award Number: http://nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=0916098
Funding Amount: 499841


Access and Inclusion: Low Socioeconomic Status | Rural
Audience: General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Climate | Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Education and learning science | Geoscience and geography | Life science | Space science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Media and Technology | Planetarium and Science on a Sphere