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


Cognitive/Conceptual Development
Bio-Health Concepts
Religion and Science
Object-based Learning

Children's causal intuitions impact their understanding of the major domains of inquiry, from science to religion, they encounter in and out of school. How such intuitions are transformed over the elementary school years and into adulthood is the focus of my research. I have examined this sort of conceptual change in terms of a) the emergence of intuitive causal explanations or theories, and b) the influence of diverse contexts, such as: culture (Asian, Western), belief system (e.g., religious belief), and informal learning contexts (e.g., museums). This analysis of changes in children's and adults' concepts provides a foundation for understanding the nature of successful learning experiences, at home and in the wild.

MUSEUM EXHIBITS (UM Learning Researcher on Federally funded Projects: See Research Grants for Project PIs and funding details) Life on Earth (Learning Research UM-PI) 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 (Learning Researcher and consultant) for 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 (Learning Research UM-PI) 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 (Learning researcher and consultant) 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.

Charlie and Kiwi: An Evolutionary Adventure (2011)
This book is a product of the Weiss & Evans NSF grant, "Life Changes".
It communicates evolutionary concepts to elementary school children.