The Ask Dr. Discovery project is an intuitive, user-friendly smartphone app that encourages museum visitors to engage deeply with museum content by posing questions to a virtual scientist astronaut called Dr. Discovery, who provides answers and fun mini-challenges.
The questions that visitors ask Dr. Discovery are gathered anonymously in a large database. An analytics system analyzes the data and provides continuous evaluation data to museum staff, helping them make just-in-time tweaks (or longer term changes) to exhibits and content as current events and visitor needs and interests change.
The Ask Dr. Discovery Project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through grant award #1438825. By enhancing visitor experience and improving museum access to data for evaluation and data-driven decision making, Ask. Dr. Discovery has both a direct and indirect impact on museums and visitors of all types. This project is also helping to train the next generation of STEM and education innovators by employing a diverse team of undergraduate and graduate students.
The Ask Dr. Discovery team is made up of faculty, staff, and students from Arizona State University. Our team spans many disciplines and includes members from ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, School of Life Sciences, and Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.
Judd Bowman, PI, Associate Professor, ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration
Brian Nelson, Co-PI, Associate Professor, ASU School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering
Cassie Bowman, Co-PI, Associate Research Professor, ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration
Jared Korinko, Lead Developer, ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration
Jodie Lu Hoffman, External Evaluator
Jeff Danas, Data Collection, Undergraduate Student, ASU School of Life Sciences
Eleanor Dhuyvetter, Data Collection, Undergraduate Student, ASU School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning
Edgar Escalante, Spanish Translator and Data Collection, Undergraduate Student, ASU Physics
Brooke Owen, Data Collection (Lead), Undergraduate Student, ASU School of Life Sciences
Kyle Rogers, Science Content (Lead) and Data Collection, Undergraduate Student, ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration
Abigail Weibel, Data Management, Undergraduate Student, ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration
2014-2015 ASU CIDSE Capstone Team: Raul Hernandez, Sukwah Kyung, Ivan Salamat, Tyler Wallace, Dheeraj Yennam
2015-2016 ASU CIDSE Capstone Team: Adam Birdsall, Ethan Marsh, Michael Mathews, Michael Reichstein, Jeff Scaturro, Joanna Zurawek
2016-2017 ASU CIDSE Capstone Team: Daniel Buttars, Joel Christiansen, Connor Golobich, Francis Oyeniyi, Alex Reyes, Daniel Villela
Previous team members: Maggie Blumm (Science Content), Caitlin Chmaj (Graphic Design), Candace Choi (Graphic Design), Kathy Eastman (AZMNH Curator of Education), Ivan Fernandez (Spanish Translation), Meg Hufford (Educational Coordinator), Rohit Iyengar (Computer Programming), Ankita Kak (Communications), Brooke Kubby (Communications), Itxier Meziani (Spanish Translation), Jhosshua Ramirez (Data Collection), Connor Schmidt (Computer Programming), Sheetal Shaw (Graphic Design), Dheeraj Yennam (Computer Programming)
Two museum partners are participating in the launch of Ask Dr. Discovery: The Arizona Museum of Natural History (AZMNH) and the Arizona Science Center (ASC).
The Arizona Museum of Natural History (AZMNH) is the premier natural history museum in Arizona. It is dedicated to inspire wonder, respect and understanding for the natural and cultural history of the Southwest. The AZMNH has served over 1.8 million visitors since 2000, including thousands of students from hundreds of schools annually. Ms. Alison Stoltman, Curator of Education, serves as the Ask Dr. Discovery museum liaison for the AzMNH.
The Arizona Science Center (ASC) has a rich history of exploration, innovation and collaboration. ASC has established itself as a major institution of learning for families, teachers and students and other guests. The Center has grown to serve over a half million guests annually, of which nearly 140,000 are school children. Ms. Sari Custer, Vice President of Exhibits and Collections Management, serves as the Ask Dr. Discovery museum liaison for the ASC.
Our museum partner liaisons act as leads at the partner sites to coordinate museum involvement with the project. Additional museum staff, docents, and volunteers interact with the project under their guidance. Partner museum staff participated in the design of the proposal and they work with the Ask Dr. Discovery team, providing expertise on museum education, operations, visitors, and evaluation tools and data. This project follows Alpert’s (2013) "principles of good stewardship" for collaborations between museums and researchers.