, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 104-122
Date: 13 Apr 2012

Biological Evolution on Display: an Approach to Evolutionary Issues Through a Museum

Abstract

Biological museums can promote interest in evolution and contribute to its understanding. Modern exhibitions generally emphasize the main concepts of evolutionary theory: biodiversity and adaptation. In 2009 at the Zoological Museum of Rome, to celebrate Charles Darwin, a pilot didactic project was carried out for schools and the general public in order to involve people in evolutionary issues, to stimulate interest and at constructing knowledge about evolution. An exhibition consisting of exhibits and laboratory settings was created. The thematic contexts of the exhibition and the practical experiences were aimed at facing some epistemological obstacles that influence the understanding of evolution and at constructing some “framing concepts” that, on the contrary, could facilitate it. The communicative and didactic strategies were all participative and interactive, based on the personal questioning and restructuring of preexisting knowledge. Behaviors, conversations, and comments by the participants were monitored in order to record any possible change of ideas, interests, attitudes, and learning.