Life on Earth

Lead Staff:
Jim Hammerman


The Life on Earth project created software for a multi-touch table to help museum visitors explore biodiversity and evolution using data from the Tree of Life, Encyclopedia of Life, and other databases. The exhibit table was installed at four natural history museums across the US – the Harvard Museum of Natural History (Cambridge, MA), the Nebraska State Museum (Lincoln, NE), the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago, IL), and the California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco, CA).

SEEC’s evaluation gathered both videotaped and direct observations of visitor behaviors around the touch-table, as well survey data on visitor knowledge and attitudes about evolution and common descent. Analyses found that small group interactions around the table were associated with increased time at the exhibit, which in turn was associated with deeper content knowledge. SEEC also worked with project staff using evaluation data to describe a method for dealing analytically with changing group configurations in naturalistic research in museums.

Related Publications

Block, Florian; Hammerman, James; Horn, Michael; Spiegel, Amy; Christiansen, Jonathan; Phillips, Brenda; Diamond, Judy; Evans, Margaret; Shen, Chia. “Fluid Grouping: Quantifying Group Engagement around Interactive Tabletop Exhibits in the Wild,” ACM annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’15), 2015. doi:10.1145/2702123.2702231.