The VISTA paradigm for teaching evolution has “evolved.” Early versions by the Museum of California Paleontology Department and the “Explore Evolution” exhibits of 2005 were shorter: VIST stood for Variation, Inheritance, Selection, and Time. Adaptation was added by American Museum of Natural History in 2008, creating the more memorable VISTA (adaptation was considered part of selection in the early versions, not called out explicitly as in VISTA).
VISTA provides a framework for teaching the key evolutionary concepts, which together form and explain the larger evolutionary view of life on Earth. Though not all-inclusive, the VISTA paradigm is a simple, straightforward way to organize and communicate the basic concepts of evolutionary theory.
Darwin & Dinosaurs (D&D) is adopting this paradigm to make it easier to learn (and remember) the most important aspects of evolution. This also makes it easier to link specific components of the exhibit to K-12 lesson plans and educational objectives.
D&D is integrating VISTA into the D&D exhibit in three ways.
• First, a special 42” touchscreen station has been developed which is dedicated to VISTA. Filled with images, videos, maps, quizzes, timelines, animations, and other digital assets, the touchscreen allows visitors to explore the VISTA concepts in their own way.
• Second, special VISTA signs have been added to exhibit components that demonstrate VISTA concepts, reinforcing the concepts and the role they played in the larger narrative of Darwin’s life and work.
• Third, the tour script for D&D now reflects the VISTA paradigm allowing tour guides to tie together the different components into a larger, more coherent explanation of evolution.