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communication studies and visitor evaluation informed design

I created this exhibition as part of my outreach-focused Undergraduate Honors Thesis in Anthropology. It explores human evolution through the lens of the modern human body, presenting a series of interactives that demonstrate various evolutionary principles and consequences. The exhibition's interpretive approach was based on science communication research and several of the interactives were refined through prototyping with visitors at COSI.


The exhibition has become part of The Ohio State University Department of Anthropology's public outreach program where it is being developed into a traveling exhibition for Ohio libraries.

big idea

The process of evolution shapes how the human body looks and works.



  • Research Theory 1: Frame evolution as a contemporary and personally relevant force to promote interest and engagement

  • Research Theory 2: Create interactive experiences to promote learning through personal investigation


  • 11-13 year olds


goals (visitors will...)

  • Understand that evolution is a biological process that has and continues to shape humans

  • Recognize the forces that act(ed) to create these changes

  • Feel more familiar and comfortable with the idea of evolution



The exhibition's three sections explore different facets of human evolution: basic human features, our diversity, and the cultural capacity of our brains




Visitors attempt to pass model infant skulls through pelvises and see how size of our pelvis is a tight compromise between bipedal efficiency and the demands of giving birth


Evaluation findings:

  • Female participants with children showed the highest level of engagement

  • Small number of participants uncomfortable with an exhibit on birth


skin color 

Visitors place lenses of differing opacities in front of a beam of light and see how the opacity blocks light like melanin in the skin


Evaluation findings: 

  • Majority of participants able to accurately identify the reason skin colors are different after using the interactive

  • Interest in exploring personal ancestry with the skin color map


tool use 

Visitors explore the increasing complexity of human tools through a series of comparative interactives featuring a stick, wheels, and a computer

Evaluation findings:

  • Stick and termite mound was the most popular 

  • Participants started competitions between doing the task with and without the tool

  • In over half of the trials participants correctly identified the objects as tools

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