2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
Paper No. 67-15
Presentation Time: 5:05 PM-5:20 PM

PREHISTORIC TIME TRAVEL: A NEW VIEW OF EARTH'S FIRST 4 BILLION YEARS AT THE DENVER MUSEUM OF NATURE AND SCIENCE

RICHARDS, Samantha, Strategic Programs and Partnerships, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, Denver, CO 80205, samantha.richards@dmns.org, HAGADORN, James W., Department of Earth Sciences, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205, KRUGER, Frances, Exhibits Department, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, Denver, CO 80205, KILPATRICK, Tommy, Digital Media Department, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, Denver, CO 80205, and PIERCE, Lindsey, Volunteer Services Department, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, Denver, CO 80205

In 2011, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science completed a new permanent exhibit entrance which showcases Earth’s deep time history and vast spatial scales of change. This entrance is for the museum’s exhibit, Prehistoric Journey, which focuses on teaching the history of life on Earth. The exhibit shepherds visitors on an expedition through 600 million years of earth history, from the dawning of multicellular life in the Ediacaran Period to the demise of the mammoths in the Pleistocene. With the new entryway, each visitor’s journey begins even earlier — in the Hadean Eon, 4.54 bya.

Over the past 15 years, scientist’s understanding of the events of the Precambrian has changed dramatically and new scientific evidence created the opportunity to produce a unique visitor experience. The new entryway features a map of the exhibition, touchable specimens depicting key moments in Earth’s history and a short video animation that shares the story of Earth’s first four billion years, dramatically illustrating that Earth was once very different from the planet we know today.

In the 90 second video, visitors witness the first 4 billion years of Earth as never seen before. This animation shows key events such as the collision that formed the moon, the late heavy bombardment, global glaciations, and the assembly and breakup of supercontinents Nuna and Rodinia. The video uses 3 different forms of time scales to help visitors understand deep geologic time and provide reference points for key events. These time scales include an odometer which begins running at 4.54 bya and spins quickly through 4 billion years, a time scale bar that moves across the bottom of the screens and pop-up time boxes with specific dates and names of events. During certain moments in the animation, such as the formation of super continents, the time is slowed down so that visitors can see more dramatically the formation of these land masses. At other moments, such as global glaciations, the time bar and odometer move more rapidly, depicting the formation and disappearance of a Snowball Earth in mere seconds. Throughout the video, altering the spatial and temporal scales allowed us to depict the rates and magnitude of major tectonic, climatic and extraplanetary events as accurately as possible while providing our visitors a unique glimpse into the Earth’s first 4 billion years.

2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 67
Time, Events, and Places: Understanding Temporal and Spatial Learning in Geoscience Education
Minneapolis Convention Center: Room 208CD
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Sunday, 9 October 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 185

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