Lineage: A Cross-Platform Learning Experience Exploring the History of Life on Earth

November 1st, 2017 - October 31st, 2020 | PROJECT

Lineage is a comprehensive educational media and outreach initiative that will engage individuals and families in learning about deep time and evolution, helping audiences come to newfound understandings of the connections between the past, present, and future of life on Earth. The project is a partnership between Twin Cities PBS (TPT) and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History and is linked to the opening of that museum's new Deep Time Fossil Hall in June 2019. The project includes a two-hour film for national broadcast on PBS, and a 20-minute short version for exhibition in science centers. The documentaries will show how scientists, using paleontology, genetics, earth science and other disciplines, can reconstruct in detail the origins of living animals like birds and elephants, revealing their ancient past as well as evidence of ecological change that can inform our understanding of Earth today. Extensive educational outreach will include the creation of "Bone Hunter," an innovative VR (Virtual Reality) game designed for family co-play that engages multiple players in the process of paleontology as they piece together a fossil in a digital lab. Bone Hunter and other collaborative educational activities will be deployed at Family Fossil Festivals that will attract multi-generational learners. One such Festival will take place at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., while others will be based at geographically diverse institutions that serve underserved rural as well as urban communities. Lineage is a collaboration between national media producers, noted learning institutions and researchers, including Twin Cities Public Television, the Smithsonian Institution / National Museum of Natural History, Schell Games, the Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI), and Rockman et al. One of the project's primary innovations is its exploration of new learning designs for families that use cutting-edge technologies (e.g. the Bone Hunter virtual reality game) and collaborative multi-generational learning experiences that advance science knowledge and inquiry-based learning. An external research study conducted by ILI will investigate how intergenerational co-play with physical artifacts compared to virtual artifacts influences STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) learning and engagement. The findings will lead to critical strategic impacts for the field, building knowledge about ongoing innovation in the free choice learning space. The project's external evaluation will be conducted by Rockman et al and evaluative findings, as well as the educational materials derived from the project, will be widely disseminated through partnerships with professional and educator groups. Clips from the Lineage film and related learning resources will be hosted on PBS LearningMedia, so educators can incorporate these resources into their classrooms, and students and lifelong learners can explore and discover on their own. The project outcomes will have broad impact on public audiences, deepening and advancing knowledge and understanding about important scientific concepts, and promoting continued, family-based collaborative learning experiences to expand and deepen STEM knowledge. This project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Lineage Final Evaluation Report

Team Members

Michael Rosenfeld, Principal Investigator, Twin Cities Public Television
Sarah Goforth, Co-Principal Investigator, Twin Cities Public Television
Amy Bolton, Co-Principal Investigator, Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1713142
Funding Amount: $2,992,401.00


Access and Inclusion: Rural | Urban
Audience: Educators | Teachers | Evaluators | Families | General Public | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Education and learning science | General STEM | Geoscience and geography | Life science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions | Projects
Environment Type: Broadcast Media | Exhibitions | Films and IMAX | Games | Simulations | Interactives | Media and Technology | Museum and Science Center Exhibits | Museum and Science Center Programs | Public Events and Festivals | Public Programs