Darwin’s Treasure Chest

Darwin’s Treasure Chest is the premier project of the newly established Science Visualization Initiative, a not-for-profit organization that seeks to establish collaborative efforts between scientists, technicians, artists, and media experts to improve science literacy through better science communication.  The mission of SVI is to increase science literacy by providing educators, researchers, and creative professionals with training, seed money, and access to strategic planning skills and creative resources that help them develop learning tools. We focus on supporting projects that use new media and new technologies to communicate.

SVI was founded by the owners of Science Visualization, LLC, a company that has been successful in developing science media for many exciting projects. By launching a not-for-profit—the Science Visualization Initiative—the founders of Science Visualization, LLC hope to generate exciting projects with new partners who share a vision for how great visualization can improve public understanding and appreciation of science.

Founding board members of the Science Visualization Initiative are:
Dr. Christina Elson, President
Mr. Roger Bingham, The Science Network & Salk Institute
Ms. Emily Landis, Lancaster Science Factory
Dr. Briana Pobiner, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Donna Cox, Director of Advanced Scientific Visualization Laboratory, National Center for Supercomputing Applications
Heather Bradbury, Program Director, Information Visualization, Maryland Institute College of Art
David Hamlin, filmaker, National Geographic

The Darwin’s Treasure Chest project is led by Chris Sloan who was chief art director and senior editor for paleontology at National Geographic Magazine for many years. The project will include the collaboration of many researchers, but our principal advisor is Dr. Kevin Padian, a well-known evolutionary biologist at UC Berkeley.  Ricky Lim, a highly experienced artist, model maker, and animator, rounds out the core project team.

The Darwin’s Treasure Chest project aims to create digital models of prehistoric creatures that teachers, parents, and students can download from the internet for 3D printing, along with educational content. These tools are particularly geared to K-12 education and to provide teachers with fun new ways to teach about evolution, Earth’s history,  and climate science—that are fundamental for improving science literacy.


Prototype Eurypterid model


Models are being designed to be printed in segments and assembled


A 3D model of Dickinsonia – a 650Ma fossil from Australia

The first fundraising effort of SVI is the Darwin’s Treasure Chest Kickstarter campaign. This will help off-set the costs of creating the models.  Because of the “high-tech” nature of the project, it will also help students learn skills that will be useful in the technology-driven job market of the future through hands-on project experience. This type of project is also well-suited to kinesthetic learners—students who learn better by doing and making things—as well as people who are visually impaired.

More information about the Science Visualisation Initiative is available from their web site.  The Darwin’s Treasure Chest announcement is available here.  Click on the link for Information about the Kickstarter campaign established to help fund the initiative.

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