Summative evaluation for Life on Earth addressed how visitors engage with the touch table exhibits when installed in a museum context, and explored whether engagement with the touch table exhibit helps visitors understand key concepts of evolution. Data collected at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco by the STEM Education Evaluation Center (SEEC) at TERC, included video and audio recordings, field observations, information from the table activity logs, and surveys about visitors’ experiences including a subset of questions from the learning research assessment. A total of 675 visitors were observed using both DeepTree and BAT over the course of over 40 hours during 11 days across the period October 2012 through December 2012.

Findings indicate that visitors engage substantially with the exhibit and its several features, and tend to enjoy their experience. Network analysis and hierarchical modeling suggest that group interactions encourage engagement, with larger groups spending longer at the exhibit. Longer time at the DeepTree exhibit, in turn, is associated with deeper knowledge of evolution and common ancestry, after controlling for prior educational level. These findings suggest that the Life on Earth exhibit software was successful at engaging a wide range of museum visitors with a variety of activities to learn about diversity of species, common ancestry, and evolutionary processes.

Publications: (To obtain the full Summative Report, please email Chia_Shen (at)

News & Press
  • Best of CHI 2015 Best Paper Award: Proposed a novel Group Identification Algorithm in a dynamic visitor flow and engagement metrics for statistical analysis in interactive informal learning environments. Demonstrated effects of two typical study methodologies (pdf).
  • Coming soon! We are working on a digital Evolution Lab with the WGBH/NOVA Labs team.
  • PBS NOVA Engaging Science blog
  • Live Showcase of BATand paper presentation at Games, Learning and Society 2014 (watch video...)
  • Seeing Science: Biomedical Computation Review writes about the DeepTree. (read more...)
  • Harvard Gazette:: The watchword is innovation (read more...)
  • SEAS News Release: Museum exhibit developed at SEAS puts evolution at visitors’ fingertips (read more...)