Through U!Scientist, visitors to the Adler Planetarium (Chicago) use a multi-touch tabletop exhibit to engage in citizen science by classifying galaxies, with the goal that they learn about the process of science, and develop more positive attitudes towards science and science identity. Visitors interact with scientific data and one another, contributing data classifications to real, globe-spanning research projects; and are invited to continue their citizen science work online on the Zooniverse site. Over fifty thousand museum visitors are expected to interact annually with U!Scientist through this effort.
The summative evaluation of U!Scientist integrates shadowing observations, U!Scientist and Zooniverse.org logfiles (i.e., automated collection of user behavior metrics), and surveys. We seek to address who engages with the touch-table activities, for how long, and in what group configurations? To what extent do visitors re-engage with the content after the museum visit (i.e., continue on to Zooniverse.org)? And what are the impacts of U!Scientist engagement on content understanding, understanding of the nature of science, attitudes towards science, and science identity?