Animals are a part of our daily lives. Whether you wake up to see your dog holding his leash in his mouth, hear birds chirping outside your window, or have a squirrel steal a bite of your food when you’re not looking, you share your space with animals. But do animals think, or are they governed only by instinct?
A new exhibition exploring this question is currently being developed by a team of experts headed by NYSCI’s science interpretation consultant, Martin Weiss. Dr. Weiss helped create the NYSCI traveling exhibitions Charlie and Kiwi’s Evolutionary Adventure and Molecules & Health … The Shape of Science. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the new animal cognition exhibition, titled Wild Minds – What Animals Really Think, will premiere at NYSCI and the Staten Island Zoo in October. It will then tour the country with stops planned in Oregon, California, Indiana and Ohio.
Creating Wild Minds has been a large undertaking, involving many people and institutions. The project’s development team includes Diana Reiss from Hunter College’s Department of Psychology, who is best known for her work on mirror self-recognition among dolphins and elephants; and John Fraser, a conservation psychologist and educator currently serving as Director of the Institute for Learning Innovation’s New York office. Partner institutions include the Staten Island Zoo, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Oregon Zoo, the California Science Center, Santa Barbara Zoo, Science Central, Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, COSI (Center of Science and Industry), and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Programming planned for Wild Minds will include NYSCI-style hands-on, do-it-yourself activities that you can try with animals in and around your home. What do you think your pet will think of that?
NYSCI’s famous Charlie and Kiwi touring exhibit, curated and researched by our very own Science Interpretation Consultant, Martin Weiss, is now a best selling book presented and illustrated by award winning Peter H. Reynolds, and available on Amazon and at the NYSCI store. Charlie and Kiwi’s Evolutionary Adventure opened at NYSCI in May 2009, and then began touring the United States in August 2009. Since then, it has received rave reviews, tackling the subject of evolution in a manner that appeals to kids of all ages.
Is that a bird?
Where are its big, feathery wings?
Why does it have whiskers like a cat?
A kiwi can’t be a bird, can it?
The answer, Charlie learns is simply evolutionary.
Presented by Peter Reynolds and FableVision and supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, this is an easy to understand scientific adventure. Charlie and Kiwi (with help from great, great, great, great, great Grandpa Charles Darwin) take you on a journey through time and through a huge scientific principle. The story of evolution—and that strange little Kiwi bird—reminds us that sometimes what seems like a raw deal (a bird that can’t fly) turns out to be just perfect!
The New York Hall of Science is New York’s hands-on science and technology center. They promote science and technology as important tools that help us understand ourselves and the world we live in.
Visit the exhibit behind the book, Charlie & Kiwi’s Evolutionary Adventure in person or online http://www.nysci.org/explore/ontour/charlieandkiwi.
FableVision is an award-winning children’s media developer and book packager founded by Peter and Paul Reynolds.
Peter H. Reynolds is the bestselling author and illustrator of The Dot and Ish and illustrator for the New York Times #1 bestseller Someday by Alison McGhee. He is also the illustrator of Little Boy, Charlie and Kiwi and the Judy Moody series. He lives in Dedham, Mass. where he is co-owner of the Blue Bunny bookstore. Visit Peter online at peterhreynolds.com.
With a little help from technology, people can see better, run faster, and do things more efficiently. NYSCI is currently working on an exhibition that will explore the user-focused engineering process that’s used to design products that enhance people’s abilities, from sneakers to eyeglasses, to wheelchairs and prosthetics. The exhibition, called Human+ (“Human Plus”), is a collaboration with the Quality of Life Technology Center (QoLT) and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). The end user figures prominently in building assisted technology products, so engineers have to consider the user at every stage of design. It is this process of asking, imagining, creating and testing that the exhibition will investigate.
Human+ won’t open until 2013, but NYSCI staff are already hard at work identifying projects to test with visitors. Working with a group of advisors that includes academics, engineers, and people with disabilities, NYSCI staff are searching for stories and projects that will capture the attention of museum visitors. A “soft-touch” robotic arm, a wheelchair with a snowplow attached, and prosthetic legs designed for running are some of the projects under consideration.
The exhibition’s main messages will include:
- Engineering is a creative process that can design technologies to meet human needs and improve people’s lives.
- Everyone can design something that helps people use their abilities to achieve their goals.
- Users should be central to the design process.
- Whether it’s sneakers or eyeglasses, or wheelchairs or prosthetics, everyone uses technology to accomplish things.
Opening in fall 2013 at NYSCI, Human+ will include examples of assisted technology projects, narratives from people with disabilities about how they have modified or designed technology to help them reach their goals, and stations where visitors can design and build products of their own.