Tar AR: Bringing the past to life in place-based augmented reality science learning

Professional Forum

Friday, April 30, 2021: 11:00am - 12:00pm - - Professional Forum

Matt Davis, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Informal science learning spaces such as museums have been exploring the potential of Augmented Reality (AR) as a means to connect visitors to places, times, or types of content that are otherwise inaccessible. This proposal reports on a design-based research project conducted at La Brea Tar Pits, an active paleontological dig site located within a city park in the heart of Los Angeles. The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County and the University of Southern California engaged in a research practice partnership to enhance place-based science learning through the design and iterative testing of potential AR exhibits. Results from one implementation show that AR technology increased visitor interest in the park and positive emotions around science content. Significant learning gains and decreases in science misconceptions also occurred for participants.

We also give guidance on developing scientifically accurate assets for AR experiences and leading users through a virtual narrative. This presentation offers insights into museum and university partnerships for promoting public understanding of science in informal spaces by leveraging place-based learning through technology-enhanced engagement.

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