Institution: Chabot Space & Science Center
Touch the Sun Exhibition
Program Evaluation, Science
Touch the Sun, showcases stunning state-of-the-art imagery captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and streamed to Chabot in near real-time. Central to the exhibit is a fully interactive, 90-inch display presenting animations of the Sun’s atmosphere in astounding detail. Additional exhibits give visitors hands-on experience with the forces of nature that shape the Sun’s behavior including a Ferro fluid exhibit and a large plasma globe. Digital drawing stations let users explore detailed solar imagery. Using observation and intercept interviews, we investigated why use of the SDO and other interactives seemed limited and why users were not understanding key messages, to generate specific recommendations for remediation of user interfaces and panel copy. Subsequently, a summative tracking and timing study and exit survey found high levels of exhibit use and understanding among visitors. In addition to cognitive impacts about the sun itself, data confirmed that the experience made people aware of NASA’s work, and inspired awe and wonder about the sun and science – key project goals.