Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM


KLEIN, Jamie, Exhibits, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205 and GOLDSTEIN, Eddie, Visitor Programs, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205,

Over the past 125 years, natural history museums have used a variety of resources to convey geoscientific understanding, including physical collections, and 2D imagery such as maps and diagrams. In the 21st century it is abundantly clear that understanding of many geophysical concepts, such as local geology or climate, requires a global systems- oriented perspective. One of the best ways to represent global phenomena is to use a more appropriate display format and project scientific data on a globe, such as NOAA’s Science On a Sphere.

Science On a Sphere (SOS) is a six foot diameter sphere onto which digital, spherical datasets can be projected and manipulated in real time. Among the advantages of SOS over flat maps include its natural way of representing spherical geospatial information, and the ability to show animated time series of global phenomena. These aspects allow visitors to literally gain a new perspective and get a comprehensive view of global systems.

In February 2010, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science installed an SOS with the help of a 5-year NASA CP4SMP grant. We have developed several live geoscience programs using raw data from scientific missions, along with a comprehensive program delivery plan. These include “A Tale of Three Planets,” a comparative planetology show designed to help the general public understand how climate works by looking at Earth, Venus, and Mars. Since all three started out with similar atmospheric conditions and diverged over billions of years, understanding what happened on Venus and Mars gives scientists insight as to what may or may not happen with Earth’s climate.

In the 21st century, due to ubiquitous technology, museum visitors understand the world differently than ever before. In order to continue advancing an understanding of geoscience with the general public we must use 21st century tools. SOS is one of those tools that we have chosen to use at DMNS.