© 2020 Abigail Sarver-Verhey


developing experiences through prototyping

I was hired by the Ohio State University Linguistics Department to create three educator-facilitated demo carts for the Labs in Life at COSI to accompany the opening of a new major dinosaur exhibition at the science center. University student educators in the Language Lab now use the demos as part of their programming for COSI visitors.


The demos teach visitors about different elements of human and dinosaur communication including types of communication, scientific vs. fictional dinosaur vocalizations, and reconstructions of dinosaur hearing.

dinosaur communication

The Lesson This demo explores what "communication" means, from the complex language of humans to the signaling and vocalization of dinosaurs.


The Experience Visitors are given one of a variety of scenarios that showcase different communication strategies. Using toy dinosaurs, they play out the different scenarios with other members of their group and the educator to witness how the communication strategies work in action.

T. rex & Threat Behavior

Stegosaurus & Defense Mechanisms

Triceratops & Mate Selection

Parasauralophus & Group Identification

prehistoric voices

The Lesson In this demo visitors rethink what a T. rex sounds like, learning how scientists reconstruct vocalizations from fossil remains.


The Experience Visitors listen to three audio tracks: the ferocious roar of a Jurassic Park T. rex, an ostrich call, and a scientific reconstruction of T. rex vocalizations. They guess which sound matches to which animal, and are often surprised to find that the T. rex probably sounded more like a modern ostrich than the elephant calls Hollywood sound designers manipulate to create movie monsters. 

dinosaur hearing

The Lesson This demo shows how scientists reconstruct the hearing range of dinosaurs and the differences between the sounds dinosaurs can hear and the sounds we can hear.

The Experience Visitors compare inner ear models of humans and birds with an inner ear model of a dinosaurs to see what comparative morphology can tell us about dinosaur hearing ranges. They can then map out different sounds to see what everyday noises dinosaurs could (or could not) hear.

creating the demos

These demo carts were developed through an iterative development process that involved cycles of prototyping and revision. To learn more about the process and findings of the evaluations, click to read the evaluation reports below.