Cleveland Museum of Natural History expands role of planetariums with software update


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IMAGE: Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Dr. Nicole Gunter, views biodiversity information on the Museum’s Planetarium Dome.
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Credit: Matt Crow/Cleveland Museum of Natural History

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (MAY 20, 2021) –The Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s Associate Curator of Invertebrate Zoology, Dr. Nicole Gunter, has actually brought to life her vision to show biodiversity information on planetarium domes with the around the world release of a brand-new planetarium software plug-in. With financing from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Gunter partnered with Evans & Sutherland (E&S), a Cosm business, to establish the software update, which permits planetariums for the very first time to immerse visitors in the marvels of life on Earth along with the far reaches of the Universe.

The release of the plug-in marks a substantial turning point in the satisfaction of Dr. Gunter’s NSF CAREER grant-funded task, which intends to even more essential discourse on the procedures forming our world and the vital role of preservation and biodiversity.

“While the primary focus of planetariums is astronomy data, I knew there was no reason that planetariums couldn’t also be used for teaching Earth and biological sciences,” stated Dr. Gunter. “Not only can places like the Museum rely on their own biodiversity records to tell the story of life on Earth, but they can also harness the 1.6 billion records made possible by global initiatives including NSF’s 2013 call for a united, nationwide digitization effort.”

With the addition of the plug-in to E&S’s Digistar planetarium software, it is simple to see biodiversity patterns, like the geographical variety of threatened or intrusive types in time, and patterns, such as the king butterfly’s seasonal migration course, on the cinema. This appealing, easy-to-understand information visualization, paired with interactive discussions by clinical specialists, can clarify the requirement for preservation efforts and influence planetarium visitors to lead the charge.

“Dr. Gunter’s work is strengthening the Museum’s long legacy of inspiring our community with the wonders of science and nature,” states Museum President & CEO Sonia Winner. “The educational programs that will result from this software development will serve as high-profile examples of the Museum’s delivering on its promise to interweave our research with public education.”

The plug-in established by E&S offers a tool to transform openly offered specimen records to a format that can be forecasted onto the dome through E&S’s Digistar software, which powers planetariums at more than 160 areas throughout the world.

“Dr. Gunter’s vision to integrate biodiversity data into Digistar and display it in real time on a dome in 8k resolution was an exciting and compelling new use case, and it provides an opportunity to expand Digistar’s capabilities to a new audience,” stated Jason Taylor, Product Manager at E&S. “Being able to display biodiversity data—which can be a very emotional topic—in a visual way is so impactful.”

Planetarium teachers can now utilize the brand-new tools to utilize the 1.6 billion specimen records and produce tailored programs on biodiversity. Biodiversity information from international aggregators can be filtered utilizing 130 fields—such as month and year of specimen collection, the specimen collector and matching organization, and the specimen’s types and household—that customize the map that gets forecasted onto the planetarium dome.

The plug-in can gather biodiversity information straight from the NSF-backed aggregator app Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio). Educators at organizations utilizing this brand-new software in their planetariums will have the ability to immediately access the iDigBio portal information with a click of a button, enabling them to take part in vibrant information expedition or response audience concerns.

“As scientists, we often focus on sharing our research in publications or at conferences,” states Dr. Gunter. “By using these tools, I believe we can have a bigger impact communicating our results to a broader public audience. I want to ignite a sense of wonder that there is still so much to learn about our planet and inspire the next generation of scientists.”

A crucial element of the NSF task is breaking down the standard barriers in between researchers, teachers, and the public. With planetariums normally scheduled for astronomers, it took a good deal of partnership to completely recognize the capacity of this venture. Dr. Gunter will continue this grant-funded task over the next numerous years, carrying out field research study in Australia, diving into the Museum’s collections, and, eventually, developing a curriculum that will connect all of it together.

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To view this release online, see cmnh.org/science-news/announcements/new-planetarium-tool

To view accompanying visuals and video, see
dropbox.com/sh/4pr89aza9w0honi/AAD_uHwpMXxeyJn7yLw38QDFa?dl=0

This product is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1942193. Any viewpoints, findings, and conclusions or suggestions revealed in this product are those of the author(s) and do not always show the views of the National Science Foundation.

About the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has actually been motivating an enthusiasm for science and nature in its visitors for more than 100 years. It ranks amongst the leading 10 nature museums in the United States in terms of endowment, size of collection, and presence, and is acknowledged for its exhibitions, collections, research study, and curricula. Its collections incorporate millions of artifacts and specimens, and research study of international significance concentrates on 11 natural science disciplines. The Museum saves biological variety through the security of more than 11,000 acres of natural locations. It promotes science and health education through regional programs and range knowing that extends around the world.

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