Researchers at NOAA developed Science On a Sphere® (SOS) as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth system science to people of all ages. After more than 10 years of outreach and growth, SOS has now been installed in 140 sites in 26 countries around the world and 29 US states. It is estimated that 35 million people see SOS every year. To further broaden the impact of SOS, SOS Explorer, a flat screen version of SOS that can be used in a wide variety of settings, was developed. SOS Explorer is an exhibit for schools and museums that has over 100 of the SOS datasets and lets students and audiences dig into the data in ways that aren’t possible with SOS. In addition to this exhibit version, a free downloadable version with a subset of the most popular datasets called SOS Explorer Lite is available to anyone. Accompanying the visualization display software that the NOAA Science On a Sphere group has created, the catalog of global visualizations that the SOS group collects and curates has proved to be a valuable stand-alone resource. The SOS data catalog includes over 500 visualizations in the categories of water, air, land, snow and ice, space, people, and extras. Descriptions, interactive videos, and downloadable samples are available through the SOS website and the majority of the full visualizations are housed on a public FTP site. This catalog is used by a wide variety of users including planetariums, other spherical displays, and teachers. Another outlet for sharing the SOS visualizations with the public is the SOS Facebook page. New datasets are posted regularly and shared across Facebook quickly. A video posted of sea ice changes over the course of 2014 accumulated 3.9 million views, while a map of historical hurricane tracks from 1950 - 2005 was viewed 918,000 times and much to the delight of the dataset creator, a video of seafloor spreading and plate tectonic movement garnered 232,555 views in days. The most popular posts tend to relate to current events and are easy to understand. In this session we’ll discuss lessons learned in our outreach efforts and planned paths forward.
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