Learning in an immersive digital theater

December 1st, 2008 | RESEARCH

The Houston Museum of Natural Science, in collaboration with Rice University has an outreach program taking portable digital theaters to schools and community sites for over five years and has conducted research on student learning in this immersive environment. By using an external independent evaluator, the effectiveness of NASA-funded Education and Public Outreach (EPO) projects can be assessed. This paper documents interactive techniques and learning strategies in full-dome digital theaters. The presentation is divided into Evaluation Strategies and Results and Interactivity Strategies and Results. All learners from grades 3–12 showed statistically significant short-term increase in knowledge of basic Earth science concepts after a single 22-min show. Improvements were more significant on items that were taught using more than one modality of instruction: hearing, seeing, discussion, and immersion. Thus immersive theater can be an effective as well as engaging teaching method for Earth and Space science concepts, particularly those that are intrinsically three-dimensional and thus most effectively taught in an immersive environment. The portable system allows taking the educational experience to rural and tribal sites where the underserved students could not afford the time or expense to travel to museums.


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Team Members

C. Sumners, Author, Houston Museum of Natural Science
P. Reiff, Author, Rice Space Institute
W. Weber, Author, University of Houston


Identifier Type: doi
Identifier: 10.1016/j.asr.2008.06.018

Publication: Advances in Space Research
Volume: 42
Number: 11
Page(s): 1848


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | Space science
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Films and IMAX | Media and Technology | Planetarium and Science on a Sphere