Space Odyssey Update Q&A

Questions submitted in JULY
Questions submitted in JUNE
Questions submitted in APRIL

1. What is the Space Odyssey Upgrade? (4/25/17)
2. Why are we upgrading Space Odyssey?  People love it! (4/25/17)
3. What about upgrading other, older exhibitions or other parts of the Museum?    Why didn't we do that first? (4/25/17)
4. When will the Upgrade be complete? (4/25/17)
5. Who are the prime customer groups that the Upgrade is targeting? (4/25/17)
6. How can I, and the other volunteers, keep track of what is happening on the Upgrade project?  How can I get my questions answered? (4/25/17)
7. When will volunteers give input to how we think Space Odyssey should be upgraded?  How can we get our suggestions into the mix? (4/25/17)
8. Can you make the biography of the Mars' astronauts' characters available to SO Volunteers? (4/25/17)
9. The Museum has demonstrated a commitment outreach to diverse groups in our community - LGBT, Latinos, women in science, etc.  As a member of one of those groups, I would like to be part of the decision making around those groups. (4/25/17)
10. I am hoping you can address the issue of not allowing weapons in the Museum, and concerns about hate-related crimes that could take place at DMNS. (4/25/17)
11. Will the new Space Odyssey be more interactive? (4/25/17)
12. Will we be revamping the training?   Will all volunteers have to be trained again? (4/25/17)
13. As part of the Upgrade Project, will all volunteers be required to support consensus science regarding climate, age of the universe, etc.? (4/25/17)
14. Will we be improving the maintenance and the maintenance processes? (4/25/17)
15. I have an idea on a group or person that could help financially support the exhibition.  Or, I might even want to financially support it myself.  What should I do? (4/25/17)
16. You had a lot of questions and specific suggestions, including ideas about.... (4/25/17)
17. How can I learn more about the Upgrade Project? (4/25/17)

+++ Questions submitted in JULY 2017 +++
18. I have a suggestion or idea....
19. I am curious about how our future training may change.
20. Are we going to talk about Climate Change?

+++ Questions submitted in JULY 2017 +++
21. Have other Museums or institutions  used this particular VR transporter like the one we're testing? If so, which ones?
22. Does Roto have specific experience with this version of a simulator or a similar one?
23. Will guests have to sign a waiver form?
24. Will there be other 'excursions' that riders can choose from on the VR Transporter?
25. Could we add a sign at the Galaxy Stage that provides a little context/background of the 'mission' that they're going to experience on the transporter?
26. Do the Smithsonian or other institutions who have a similar VR experience offer different missions so there's more options for guest to ride on a repeat basis?
27. If there will be opportunities for guests to experience different scenarios on the VR transporter, can we offer a 'Frequent Flyer' type of card for a discount?
28. Could the Guest Services who help people board also be given a brief description so they can share with guests, in case guests miss the sign?
29. If a parent says he/she is okay with their child who's slightly under the height limit to ride the transporter is that sufficient authorization for the Guest Services to allow that child to ride?

 

VR Transporter Update-20170613.pdf

SO-QA-Video1-smWant a project status update on the Space Odyssey upgrade?
YouTube (unlisted)
Length: 01:33:03


SOUpdate-April2017-tn.pngSpace Odyssey Update presentation from April 2017(pdf)

1. What is the Space Odyssey Upgrade?
The Space Odyssey Upgrade is a Museum strategic-initiative-supported project. It will be the first time the Museum re-invests at this level of resources (multi-million dollars, multi-year) to update a permanent exhibition.  The first phase of the Upgrade project - the development of the Upgrade concept - was approved by our Museum's Board of Trustees late in 2016.
2. Why are we upgrading Space Odyssey?  People love it!
When the Museum decided to invest serious resources in our permanent exhibitions, we did a lot of research to determine which permanent exhibition would be the priority.    There were five determining factors that led to the selection of Space Odyssey:  a) Space science continues to be of interest to adults (80%) and children (84%), and it makes sense to invest in a topic of interest.   b) 70% of our guests go into Space Odyssey, so it is a highly visible and popular exhibition.  c) Space Odyssey is expensive, costing the Museum more than $1M/year in materials and personnel, and thus an upgrade is an opportunity to focus operational resources efficiently.  d) There are a lot of new science and technology opportunities, and those types of updates need bigger dollars to support upgrades.  And, e)  we know that it is difficult to maintain Space Odyssey, and an upgrade is an opportunity to fix worn out and poorly-working activities at a level beyond what we can support annually.
3. What about upgrading other, older exhibitions or other parts of the Museum?  Why didn't we do that first?
Many exhibitions were considered as we explored what the highest level priorities were. While Space Odyssey was determined to be the highest priority for a large Upgrade, we have recently updated all the large digital interactives in Expedition Health to improve their performance and accuracy.  We have replaced the carpeting and casework in Egyptian Mummies, and will shortly be updating some of the science.  We relatively recently updated Bears & Sea Mammals and North American Wildlife, as well as the People of the Pueblos area within North American Indian Cultures.  We added comfortable seating throughout the Museum, and added the Coffee Lab on Level 2 for guest comfort.  We updated the North Lobby to minimize the number of queues guests had to wait in to enter, as well as adding bilingual information in ticketing, the café, and (shortly) wayfinding and map improvements.  We have new carpet on Level 3 west side and the West Atrium.  We updated the Darwin Case near South America, and two cases introducing the South Pacific & Australia galleries.  We fixed the Allosaurus in Prehistoric Journey, and updated the T-Rex restaurant and café.  And we will continue working on other projects throughout the Museum as time and money allow.
4. When will the Upgrade be complete?
We don't yet know.  We need to finish the concept first, which will be completed this fall. The concept will determine the scope, and the scope will determine the schedule.  So this fall we will be able to tell you when the Upgrade will be complete.  We do know it won't be completed in 2017.
5. Who are the prime customer groups that the Upgrade is targeting?
Our existing members, families, elementary students and educators are and will continue to be the main audience for Space Odyssey 2.0.  Additionally, we are hoping to have the upgraded Space Odyssey help be part of a Museum-wide initiative to increase our relevancy and appeal to Latino community members and other ethnic and cultural groups that do come, but are proportionally underrepresented in our audiences.  Our audience research focuses around all these groups.
6. How can I, and the other volunteers, keep track of what is happening on the Upgrade project?  How can I get my questions answered?
We have a new email address that staff working on the project will continue to update, with answers pasted on the portal so everyone can learn. So please send questions to SOFeedback@dmns.org, and we will work to get answers to you through the MGG portal.   Additionally, we'll continue to have updates in the monthly Space Odyssey Volunteer Updates. Plus, the box in the Volunteer Lounge where you can drop your questions will also be available through the summer.
7. When will volunteers give input to how we think Space Odyssey should be upgraded?  How can we get our suggestions into the mix?
Just like the staff, you volunteers are specialists in Space Odyssey. Some of you are also specialists within space science or space science technology.  But our first set of ideas will come from audiences that are deliberately not specialists - they are not staff, they are not volunteers, they aren't specifically scientists or engineers or technologists.  Instead, they are the people that come every day, and every day have to decide if they are going to come back again.  We will first learn from these audiences how we can be most engaging and relevant, and then with that information talk with all our specialists - including you volunteers - about ideas or suggestions that support those types of engagement. This likely will be in June or July 2017.
8. Can you make the biography of the Mars' astronauts' characters available to SO Volunteers?
Thank you for your suggestion. It's a great idea and we'll work on putting this together in the near future.
9. The Museum has demonstrated a commitment outreach to diverse groups in our community - LGBT, Latinos, women in science, etc.  As a member of one of those groups, I would like to be part of the decision making around those groups.
The Museum has and will continue to work directly with community members that are representative of different community groups.  For example, as we're asking questions about the Museum's relevance to Latino communities, we have talked with dozens of organizations and more than 500 individuals to understand trends, feedback, etc.  We have been working with The Center and Rainbow Alley and PrideFest on LGBT ideas, and with groups like Spectra and the Colorado Autism Society and their families around how to be more accessible to those on the Autism spectrum.  We also have several associate or affinity groups that may be of interest such as LGBT-rexes and Allysauruses (LBGT), and Skirts in Science (women in science).  You are welcome to learn more about joining these groups.
10. I am hoping you can address the issue of not allowing weapons in the Museum, and concerns about hate-related crimes that could take place at DMNS.
We appreciate the fear of facing hate-related crimes, and agree that preparation is the best we can do to ensure the guests, volunteers, and staff survive if the unthinkable happened.  The focus to be safe is an institution-wide endeavor, and thus Space Odyssey won't have different approaches from the rest of the institution.  Always, we remain compliant with legal statues regarding weapons, and ensure we follow best practices as informed by national and local experts.  We also have emergency trainings - which volunteers are encouraged to attend - which share what we should do if emergencies happen. If you would like to learn more, we encourage you to call 303.370.6327 to set up a time to talk to Ed Scholz, our vice president who oversees Operations, including security.
11. Will the new Space Odyssey be more interactive?
We know from our research so far that our audiences value interactivity. Even more, they value an ability to explore and make their own discoveries.  So we are fairly confident that Space Odyssey 2.0 will continue to have - and might even have more - types of interactivity. We hope that new interactivity will allow more customized exploration and discovery, and help give our audiences more ownership of their own exploration.
12. Will we be revamping the training?   Will all volunteers have to be trained again?
We will revamp the training.  We don't yet know how, but you all (in our 2016 survey) shared that there is an opportunity for improving our training, so we will be figuring out how we can make the largest improvements for the greatest number of volunteers within the resources we have available. And, for certain, we will make sure we include training for any changes within the Upgrade.  The amount of training on existing programs will depend on if/how they change moving forward, and how many.
13. As part of the Upgrade Project, will all volunteers be required to support consensus science regarding climate, age of the universe, etc.?
The Museum always represents the best science - that is, scientific knowledge that is backed by scientific data, experimentation, and the scientific processes.  While working at DMNS or otherwise representing the Museum, staff and volunteers currently are required to publically adhere to the Museum's positions on climate change, evolution, human remains, collecting, and the scientific consensus around space science and the universe.  Our institution strives to be a welcoming place and respectful of diverse viewpoints. It does not seek to "convert" or undermine beliefs or faith, or to cause guests or colleagues discomfort for holding alternative beliefs. And while staff and volunteers are welcome to hold alternative viewpoints, it is incumbent on them to only represent the Museum's Position Statements on climate change and evolution while on the premises. No staff or volunteer should represent alternative, positions as a Museum representative to guests. If you would like more clarity around this, or if you need a copy of our Position Statements, please contact Ana Arias. Position statements are also available on the general Volunteer Portal under the Volunteer Manual.
14. Will we be improving the maintenance and the maintenance processes?
This is a yes, on a few different levels.  First, we are already working to increase the number of our techs who are familiar enough with Space Odyssey to do maintenance.   Second, the Upgrade will be a chance to get rid of some of the low-performing, high-maintenance pieces, and/or to overhaul popular things that don't work or are frequently broken.  Third, Space Odyssey 1.0 was our first truly interactive exhibition that the Museum ever did back in 2003.  We have learned a lot from it, as well as from Expedition Health and Discovery Zone that followed, so we will be able to have those new learnings be part of Space Odyssey's future planning.  Fourth, we will have a chance to more extensively prototype new activities - that is, test with audiences -- so hopefully can discover (and fix!) weaknesses before they become operational.  And, last, we still know that things will still break - there is no way to never have things break unless everything is behind glass and all guests always keep their hands in their pockets (and even then….)  So we can promise that after the Upgrade, things will improve.    We can't promise that nothing will ever break again.
15. I have an idea on a group or person that could help financially support the exhibition.  Or, I might even want to financially support it myself.  What should I do?
That is great to hear.  The easiest thing would be if you could send a message to SOFeedback@dmns.org so we know who to contact, and we can follow up with you specifically.  We always appreciate learning about who might be interested in supporting the project.
16. You had a lot of questions and specific suggestions, including ideas about 1) the Mars Rover exhibit 2) SpacePort CO 3) Viking cosmology sagas 4) Mars diorama lighting 5) tilty table 6) spectroscopy  7) Hubble's Law  8) dark matter 9) black holes  10) scale model solar systems 11) stream table, 12) space screen, 13) planetary probes, 14) hydrogen fuel cell, 15) vacuum chamber, 16) various VR systems, 17) cratering, 18) telescopes, 19) stream table, 20) rover, 21) artifacts, 22) gravity cart, 23) ISS, 24)Living in Space, 25) Cubelets, 26) various Experiment Bar, 27) games, 28) Rand McNally globe, 29) robotics, 30) images, 31) Orbits Table, 32) low earth orbit and moon exploration, 33) the solar system, 34) the galaxy, 35) SO vests, 36) local connections, 37) entrance, 38) 3-D printing, 39) holograms, 40) Martian botany, 41) lower-G simulations using harnesses, 42) artificial intelligence, 43) guests using the diorama differently, and 44) domed theater experiences.
At this moment (April 2017), everything is on the table for considering.  We are not yet far enough into the project to know answers to most of these questions.  Here's what we do know:   Before we can get to specifics, we need to understand the bigger picture parameters and direction, and we are getting that by talking with our general audiences and communities to find out what they think is most interesting, appealing, and engaging. Once we know that, we will ask you to share your ideas within that framework that our general audience wants.  And we will hold onto your specific ideas until then.
17. How can I learn more about the Upgrade Project?
We presented for volunteers and staff on 4/18/17 and 4/22/17, including a 60 minute update followed by a 30 minute Q&A session.  A video recording of the 4/18/17 presentation can be viewed through this portal link.
18. I have a suggestion or idea....
In addition to the suggestions recorded in question 15, we've had additional questions about Explorer I, GPS table, and climate change.
As of this posting (June 2017), we are in the process of getting feedback from Guests about general sub-theme ideas that arose from the previous evaluation. After we narrow down, sort out, and prioritize, we'll be ready for more specific ideas that fit within the sub-themes.  Feel free to keep sending those ideas - we're keeping them all! -but we won't know for a bit yet whether your idea will have roots.
19. I am curious about how our future training may change.
We're just starting a process where we look at training and other communication processes.  You're likely to see some surveys soon to gather more information from you about what training changes you may want. Feel free to also share suggestions to SOFeedback@dmns.org.
20. Are we going to talk about Climate Change?
We are still working on our sub-themes, so don't yet know exactly what message may appear in the details. We do know that our Museum's mission is to share the science facts, not to promote particular advocacy.
21. Have other Museums or institutions  used this particular VR transporter like the one we're testing? If so, which ones?
Yes, many science centers have simulator rides.  This particular unit has installations including the Museum of Flight in Seattle, the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport in Virginia, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, and the National Museum of the U.S. Airforce in Dayton.
22. Does Roto have specific experience with this version of a simulator or a similar one?
No.  This is why we're all interested in the test.
23. Will guests have to sign a waiver form?
Nope!
24. Will there be other 'excursions' that riders can choose from on the VR Transporter?
Not during our pilot period.
25. Could we add a sign at the Galaxy Stage that provides a little context/background of the 'mission' that they're going to experience on the transporter?
We could, but we're not sure it is necessary given that the context and graphics show the space station. We want to preserve a bit of a surprise, so that we don't "give away" the experience and make it less impactful.
26. Do the Smithsonian or other institutions who have a similar VR experience offer different missions so there's more options for guest to ride on a repeat basis?
There are other venues that host this or similar experiences.  Some of them do choose to run different missions. However, at the moment, this company doesn't have multiple "space themed" experiences.  
27. If there will be opportunities for guests to experience different scenarios on the VR transporter, can we offer a 'Frequent Flyer' type of card for a discount?
No other venues that we know of offer a "frequent flyer" discount.  Some do offer a same day repeat option. At the moment, either is so complicated to enact with our ticketing system that it would take a ton of new programming.  We're not going to invest that degree of programming within our ticketing system for a pilot, but using the evaluation data we can assess if this experience seems like something guests would want to repeat.
28. Could the Guest Services who help people board also be given a brief description so they can share with guests, in case guests miss the sign?
Guest Services staff have knowledge about the show, and can respond to any questions they receive.  However, again, we don't want to give away the whole experience up front - we don't want to tell them the storyline ahead of time so there's no suspense. 
29. If a parent says he/she is okay with their child who's slightly under the height limit to ride the transporter is that sufficient authorization for the Guest Services to allow that child to ride?
No, the 42" is a limit. Guest Services staff have a second measure on the back of the column near the ride entrance that they can see right as individuals board to double-check that kids are tall enough.
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