back to news Aug. 27, 2013

ASC Scientists and COSI Bring Science to Life

Arts and sciences researchers have teamed up with Columbus’ COSI (Center of Science and Industry) to introduce current scientific research and its applications to general audiences as part of COSI’s new Portal to the Public Initiative.

“COSI is one of the most respected science centers in the nation, serving thousands of visitors every year,” said Christopher Andersen, director of the Arts and Sciences STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Education Initiatives. “We are delighted to work with them on this new initiative to engage the public with current scientific research in a fun and unintimidating way.”

The Portal to the Public Initiative was launched by Pacific Science Center in 2007 to assist informal science education institutions in bringing scientists and public audiences together and through hands-on activities promote appreciation and understanding of scientific research. The program model was implemented and evaluated at eight museums and science centers during 2007-2011, with support from a National Science Foundation grant. COSI became a Portal to the Public member in spring 2013.

“Few opportunities exist for the public to learn about current scientific research and its impacts directly from the researchers themselves,” said Andy Aichele, COSI curator and director of COSI University. “The Portal to the Public Initiative is a great vehicle that allows COSI and Ohio State to develop even deeper relationships with each other and help people of all ages understand and appreciate some of the current research being done in our own region."

COSI’s inaugural Portal to the Public event took place on August 24 and featured three arts and sciences scientists.

John Beacom, professor of physics and astronomy, discussed the exciting research being done in Ohio State's Center of Cosmology and Astro Particle Physics (CCAPP), of which he is director.

"A fundamental point that connects falling apples to Earth's orbit around the Sun to our precise knowledge of the age of the universe (13.8 billion years) is the principle of universal gravitation," explained Beacom. "All objects with mass attract all other objects with mass, which gets stronger with increasing masses and weaker with increasing distance between them."

Kathryn Campbell-Kibler, assistant professor of linguistics discussed her work on how Ohioans think about regional language variation within the state, especially the difference between country vs. city or sourth vs. central/north and central vs. north and what these variations tell us about how the idea of "accent" works.

Cheng Zhang, graduate student in design and student affiliate at the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD), brought her Moon Experience project to visitors.

The Moon Experience is an interactive and immersive virtual reality system based on historic Apollo program (1961-1972). The virtual lunar world is created through the virtual reality technology. Computer game technology reinforces the effectiveness of the learning environment, lending

“The goal is to create an effective learning experience in virtual world, which would otherwise be impossible to experience in the real world,” said Zhang.

Motion capture and computer animation facilitate real-time interactions between users and the system to sustain the sensation of being on the Moon. Learning principles and storytelling give a participant the proper situated learning content. Providing a framework of narrative helps heighten the audience’s perception, trigger their imagination, and transcend the virtual reality’s current limitations.