U!Scientist: Designing for People-Powered Research in Museums

May 6th, 2021 | RESEARCH

Scientists have long sought to engage public audiences in research through citizen science projects such as biological surveys or distributed data collection. Recent online platforms have expanded the scope of what people-powered research can mean. Science museums are unique cultural institutions that translate scientific discovery for public audiences, often conducting research of their own. This makes museums compelling sites for engaging audiences directly in scientific research, but there are associated challenges as well. This project engages public audiences in contributing to real research as part of their visit to a museum. We present the design and evaluation of U!Scientist, an interactive multi-person tabletop exhibit based on the online Zooniverse project, Galaxy Zoo. We installed U!Scientist in a planetarium and collected video, computer logs, naturalistic observations, and surveys with visitors. Our findings demonstrate the potential of exhibits to engage new audiences in collaborative scientific discussions as part of people-powered research.



Team Members

Mmachi God’sglory Obiorah, Author, Northwestern University
James K.L. Hammerman, Author, TERC
Will Granger, Author, The Adler Planetarium - Zooniverse
Haley Margaret West, Author, Northwestern University
Laura Trouille, Author, The Adler Planetarium - Zooniverse
Becky Rother, Author, The Adler Planetarium - Zooniverse
Michael Horn, Author, Northwestern University


Identifier Type: DOI
Identifier: 10.1145/3411764.3445334

Publication: CHI '21: Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Number: 675
Page(s): 1-14


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1713425
Funding Amount: $299,899.00

Related URLs

Leveraging Citizen Science for Informal Science Learning


Audience: General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals | Scientists
Discipline: Space science
Resource Type: Conference Proceedings | Reference Materials
Environment Type: Citizen Science Programs | Media and Technology | Planetarium and Science on a Sphere | Public Programs