New gateway to STEM

Awardees: Alyssa Goodman (FAS), Edo Berger (FAS), Alicia Soderberg (FAS), John Johnson (FAS), Robert Kirshner (FAS), Dimitar Sasselov (FAS)

Summary: Awardees will install an interactive, touch-screen kiosk running interactive WorldWide Telescope Tours in the Science Center and analyze usage.

The WorldWide Telescope Kiosk offers interactive “tours” of our planet and the universe that link to related Harvard courses in Astronomy, Earth & Plenary Sciences, and the History of Science. Awardees successfully installed the touchscreen kiosk in the Science Center in May 2014 with goals to increase Harvard students’ awareness of 1) Astronomy’s contribution to science, and humanity’s understanding of the universe overall; and 2) Course content and student research offerings relevant to Astronomy and Astrophysics at Harvard.

To assess impact, the team summarized usage statistics of the kiosk most recently in fall 2015. Awardees were particularly interested to see that there was some evidence that undergrads made up a significant part of the kiosk’s user base and that some say (via kiosk survey) that it inspired them to take more courses related to Astronomy and Earth Science.

Currently, discussions are underway that may result in the kiosk moving from the Science Center to the Harvard Museum of Natural History.