Life Changes Summative Evaluation

February 1st, 2011 | EVALUATION

Life Changes: Communicating pre-evolutionary concepts to young children in informal settings was an education and research effort designed to address the lack of basic understanding of the biology of evolution and the challenges of increasing understanding of this complex content in informal learning environments. Exhibit designers from the New York Hall of Science, Miami Science Museum, and North Museum of Natural History & Science worked closely with researchers from the University of Michigan to devise an educational intervention that could meet this critical public science need. Exhibit components were designed to introduce pre-evolutionary concepts that included: variation, inheritance, selection, time, and adaptation (VISTA). Informed by these concepts, the Life Changes team developed Charlie and Kiwi's Evolutionary Adventure a research-based 1000sf traveling exhibition. The summative evaluation investigated whether informal settings can help young children develop the reasoning skills and a sufficient understanding of pre-evolutionary concepts to prepare them for learning about evolution. The evaluation was conducted at the New York Hall of Science (NySci) and the Miami Science Museum (MiaSci). Three data collection approaches were utilized: Timing and tracking, child interviews, and parent surveys.The development process and the exhibition product have provided a much needed opportunity to test basic research principles about how people reason and make sense of the world. In addition this project tested the power and limits of learning from museums and found that even relatively brief experiences in a museum exhibition can begin to influence mental models of biological change.



Team Members

Sasha Palmquist, Evaluator, Institute for Learning Innovation
Liz Danter, Evaluator, Institute for Learning Innovation
Steven Yalowitz, Evaluator, Institute for Learning Innovation
New York Hall of Science, Contributor


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 0540152
Funding Amount: 2716731

Related URLs

Life Changes


Audience: Evaluators | Families | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | Life science | Social science and psychology
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits

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This material is supported by National Science Foundation award DRL-2229061, with previous support under DRL-1612739, DRL-1842633, DRL-1212803, and DRL-0638981. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations contained within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

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