This study investigates the impact of an augmented reality (AR) exhibit, Bugtopia, on family learning conversations at The Lawrence Hall of Science. Bugtopia was designed to allow visitors to interact with 3D models of animals, aiming to engage intergenerational (adult-child) groups. The study included observations and interviews with nine adult-child dyads. Findings suggest that AR enhances engagement and educational experiences, providing a dynamic learning environment that encourages collaboration, active participation, and addresses misconceptions. The study highlights the potential of AR in museums and science centers to support interactive and immersive learning, and suggests further exploration into gender differences in engagement and learning preferences.

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Publication: Investigation of an Augmented Reality Exhibit for Family Learning Conversations

Year: 2024

Pages: 17


  • Animals
  • Augmented Reality
  • Exhibits
  • Museums

Family Talk Tips

Adult stating, "I notice it looks bumpy!" and child answering, "It reminds me of a basketball!"
Adult asking child, "What do you notice?" and child answering, "The wings have polka dots!"

Get your child talking to accelerate their science learning!

Encourage observation and connection:

  • What do you notice about how the animal looks/moves/behaves?
  • What body parts can you identify and what do they do?
  • Does it remind you of anything else you’ve seen in other animals, plants, or objects? Why?

Encourage questions and predictions:

  • Based on what you’ve observed, what do you predict that it eats? What evidence have you gathered to support your prediction?
  • What do you call an animal that eats only _____?
    • Herbivores have mouthparts that chew (as in leaves) and suck (as in nectar)
    • Carnivores eat other animals, and in general, are active and powerful. Some carnivores are arachnids and use their fangs to liquefy and drink up their prey. 
    • Detritivores feed on dead or decaying animal and plant material (as in carrion, dung, or leaf litter)
    • Insects can switch feeding types at different life stages. Some don’t even eat as adults! 


Institute of Museum and Library Services

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (Grant #MG-40-18-0005-18). The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this presentation do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Essig Museum of Entomology

Thank you to the Essig Museum of Entomology at UC Berkeley who provided expert consultation about the bugs, as well as their support in taking microscope photos of them from actual bugs in their collection. Check out the gallery below!

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