Exploring the Universe from Antarctica – An Informal STEM Polar Research Exhibit

May 1st, 2020 | RESEARCH

Many concepts in astrophysics research can be difficult for a lay individual to understand or to comprehend their importance. One such example concept is the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, which detects high-energy neutrinos at the South Pole in Antarctica. The observatory uses information from detected neutrinos originating deep in outer space to better understand astrophysical phenomena like black holes or exploding stars. Unfortunately, it is often difficult for the public to understand how these pieces fit together towards creating a more complete understanding of our universe. To promote public understanding of IceCube, an interactive exhibit was created which used large multi-touch screen and Virtual Reality (VR) equipment. The exhibit, placed in a public environment, was evaluated both formally and informally around its effectiveness of providing STEM learning opportunities. The results show that the system not only provided an effective means of conveying content, but also provided a means of sparking the curiosity of users to learn more about the presented subject matter. Further results show that outcomes demonstrated significant differences between subject responses depending upon which of the two deployed devices they used. Findings also provide evidence that retrospective survey designs have the same rigor in data collection as traditional pre-and posttest designs when investigating exhibits. Based on these findings, guidelines are offered for others who aim to deploy similar systems in publicly accessible spaces.



Team Members

Ross Treddinick, Author, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Rebecca Cors, Author, University of Wisconsin-Madison
James Madsen, Author, University of Wisconsin-Madison
David Gagnon, Author, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Silvia Bravo Gallart, Author, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Bryce Sprecher, Author, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kevin Ponto, Author, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Identifier Type: issn
Identifier: 2576-6767

Publication: Journal of STEM Outreach
Volume: 3
Number: April 2020
Page(s): 13 pages


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: Polar Special Initiatives
Award Number: 1612504

Related URLs

Exploring the Universe from Antarctica


Audience: General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: General STEM
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Games | Simulations | Interactives | Laboratory Programs | Media and Technology | Museum and Science Center Exhibits | Public Programs

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This material is supported by National Science Foundation award DRL-2229061, with previous support under DRL-1612739, DRL-1842633, DRL-1212803, and DRL-0638981. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations contained within InformalScience.org are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

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