E. Margaret Evans

Research Scientist
Center for Human Growth and Development
University of Michigan
300 N. Ingalls Bldg, 10th Floor
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5406

e-mail: evansem [at] umich.edu

Informal Science/Object-based Learning
Cognitive/Conceptual Development/Intuitive Theories
Science and Religion

What influences the rapid and spontaneous learning that occurs in informal learning settings, from the home to the
museum? This has been the focus of my research for the last several years. My current research on the informal
learning of science and religion was framed by my earlier studies on the cultural and cognitive factors that
influence the emergence of scientific and religious cognition in children and adults from diverse communities.

Most recently, and in collaboration with colleagues from diverse disciplines, from exhibit and software developers
to human-computer interaction researchers, we have created four exhibits, on display in museums across the United
States. These exhibits serve two interrelated purposes: (1) compelling informal learning experiences based on
children's intuitive science concepts and (2) laboratories for investigating children's conceptual development and
families' science learning.

MUSEUM EXHIBITS (see Grants for funding details)

Life on Earth (NSF) (University of Michigan PI; Learning Scientist) A multi-institute collaborative project to develop a new approach to using learning research-based technology to help the public understand evolution through the Tree of Life. A table-top interactive on permanent display at California Academy of Science, San Francisco; Field Museum, Chicago, Harvard Museum of Natural History, Nebraska Museum of Natural History

Evolution and Health (NIH) (University of Michigan Consultant; Learning Scientist) The creation of a traveling exhibition to assess whether making evolutionary concepts personally relevant increases acceptance of evolution (includes one year formative test site at the University of Michigan). Currently on display at the New York Hall of Science

Charlie and Kiwi's Evolutionary Adventure (NSF) (University of Michigan PI; Learning Scientist) Co-developer traveling exhibition to test whether informal science interventions prepare children to accept the scientific basis of evolution by targeting their intuitive concepts. Associated book: Charlie and Kiwi's Evolutionary Adventure. Currently on display at the New York Hall of Science (traveled to 10 museums across the US)

Explore Evolution (NSF) (University of Michigan Consultant; Learning Scientist) Creation of seven evolution components (from the Diatom to the Whale) on permanent display in six Midwest museums (including the UM Museum of Natural History) and an associated book.