Planning Activity: Using contemporary evolution to teach about the nature of science to underserved audiences

September 1st, 2009 - February 29th, 2012 | PROJECT

Washington State University, the University of Puget Sound, the University of Washington, a consortium of three museums, and a state-wide charter school system that assists home-school teachers in the Northwest are collaborating to develop new strategies to educate and inform the public about evolution through interactive museum exhibits. Background information and baseline knowledge will be garnered through focus group discussions and surveys. Information will be sought from parents and students in home-school environments and teachers of faith-based groups. The planning work is the prelude to development of the actual exhibition and is needed to inform the PIs how most effectively to help the public best learn key concepts of evolution. The same groups that supply the baseline information and knowledge of concepts will be used to judge museum development in an iterative manner. A second objective in this endeavor is to catalyze collaboration among regional museums. Participants in the project will be staff from the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, Conner Museum in Pullman, Washington, Slater Museum of Natural History in Tacoma, Washington, Nebraska State Museum, and Idaho Distance Education Academy. An advisory committee includes evolutionary scientists, philosophers of science, and members of the clergy. This project will derive baseline perspectives on evolution from the unique home-school and faith-based communities, piloted interactive exhibits describing contemporary evolution stories, comparative knowledge on whether these participating groups provide useful strategies in the exhibit development, and whether contemporary content exhibits are better at explanations of evolution than the more traditional examples.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Team Members

Larry Hufford, Principal Investigator, Washington State University
Michael Webster, Co-Principal Investigator, Washington State University
Richard Olmstead, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Washington
Amy Ryken, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Puget Sound
Carol Anelli, Former Principal Investigator, Washington State University
Peter Wimberger, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Puget Sound


Funding Source: NSF
Award Number: 0840338
Funding Amount: 75000


Audience: Educators | Teachers | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Life science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits