Using the Arts as a Bridge to Public Understanding of Data-Intensive Earth Science Research through Climate Prisms: The Arctic

Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Linda Theresa Deck1, Francesca Samsel2, Cathy Jean Wilson3 and Mireya Rodriguez-Acosta3, (1)Los Alamos National Laboratory, Bradbury Science Museum, Los Alamos, NM, United States, (2)University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, United States, (3)Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, United States
An ever-growing body of research in Informal Science Education is showing that the arts contribute greatly to engaging the free-choice science learner. This kind of learning goes on outside of the classroom, notably in science centers and museums, where novel, experiential approaches can be piloted. A new exhibit, Climate Prisms: The Arctic, is being mounted by a team of artists and scientists at the Bradbury Science Museum of Los Alamos National Laboratory. It presents the pipeline from collecting soil samples in the Arctic to analyzing them in the labs to the statistical analysis of the findings and on to the input into the climate model, using prisms of art: visual art, poetry, scientific text, information graphics, field imagery and others. The presentation encourages users to view Arctic science through these different lenses. Each person plots their own path, moving through the content at the pace and level that best enables them to engage with the material. With the entry points through multiple artistic voices, learners hearts and feelings are directly reached, building primarily affective connections and then curiosity, rather than cognitive. The project itself is a large display screen driven by a touch interface designed for individual or small group viewing. Content paths are determined by an underlying system of tags, levels, content categories and related research areas. A screen shows a set of images. Each image can be accessed to provide image-specific information or can be a launching pad for a new set of related content and images that allows the user to continue on their exploration journey. Each person, each time they visit, creates a unique path through over 2000 pieces of content according to the unique set of learning assets and interests they bring with them at that visit. Embedded assessment will log basic demographics and each individual foray through the content. These assessments will be analyzed to explore trends of use and drive further content development.