The idea of this project is to develop a non-obtrusive, valid and replicable method to evaluate audience attitudes about science communication projects through an immersive virtual reality environment that can improve exhibitions while educating and empowering citizens.
We will embrace the Azores International Research Center agenda, specifically, deep sea ecosystems sustainability, by producing new digital content and carrying out pilot studies in local and national science centers.
This approach will fill a gap in existing models that 1) fail to account for self-generated visitor narratives about their science center experiences; 2) ignore the role of the visitor in the evaluation process itself; and 3) disregards the effects of test-enhanced learning in the transferability of knowledge to other contexts. In order to develop the immersive virtual reality environment, we extend the transformational play framework into the field of science communication.
The immersive virtual reality environment will have two modalities: for one person (individual condition) and for a group of individuals (collective condition), that will be supported by a game-based approach and multilinear storytelling.
The journey will take visitors into extreme deep sea conditions, scaffolded according to three levels – a) awareness, b) understanding and c) engagement – regarding science/technology processes and contents: In the individual condition, the environment consists of a capsule with head-mounted displays and headphones to provide an immersive experience. In the collective condition, the digital environment will be projected fulldome in a hemisphere room.