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Award Abstract #0840160

Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think

Division Of Research On Learning
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Initial Amendment Date: August 17, 2009
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Latest Amendment Date: June 5, 2012
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Award Number: 0840160
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Alphonse T. DeSena
DRL Division Of Research On Learning
EHR Direct For Education and Human Resources
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Start Date: September 1, 2009
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End Date: August 31, 2015 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $2,131,193.00
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Investigator(s): Martin Weiss mweiss@nyscience.org (Principal Investigator)
Diana Reiss (Co-Principal Investigator)
John Fraser (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: New York Hall of Science
47-01 111TH STREET
Corona, NY 11368-2950 (718)699-0005
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NSF Program(s): AISL
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Program Reference Code(s): 9177, SMET
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Program Element Code(s): 7259


The New York Hall of Science, the Institute for Learning Innovation, Hunter College of the City University of New York, and a consortium of five regional science center/zoo partnerships will collaborate to develop, implement, and evaluate a project with the working title "Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think." It will develop a research-based traveling exhibition for science centers that explores animal cognition and cross-institutional programming strategies for zoos as a case study for the ISE field. The project's primary goal for public audiences is to foster a deeper understanding of similarities between people and animals in terms of cognition, i.e., how we think.

Wild Minds will explore two interrelated hypotheses: (1) a deeper insight into how animals think will create or strengthen the awareness of an evolutionary link between animals and humans; and (2) that this sense of a strong connection can stimulate interest in the welfare of animals in the wild and in our homes. The project will create a 1,500 s.f. traveling exhibition with 15-20 exhibit components exploring aspects of animal cognition for general audiences at five major science centers with zoo partners.

The Institute for Learning Innovation project will conduct applied research that will expand on the results of the summative evaluation of the exhibition by investigating whether changes in awareness, understanding, and knowledge about action are sustained over time and/or lead to attitudinal change, behavioral intention, and observable behavior. In addition, process research with the science center and zoo collaborators will provide an analysis that will identify factors contributing to or inhibiting an integrated local informal science education infrastructure in a community. The project will also conduct exploratory research to identify the challenges and benefits encountered during collaboration between science centers and zoos.


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Gupta, R., Plemons, K.. "Volunteer perceptions of public value from a co-hosted museum-zoo exhibition.," The Informal Learning Review., v.118, 2012, p. 11.

John Fraser, Maria Maust-Mohl, Rachel Morrison, Diana Reiss, Sarah Knight, Nezam Ardalan, and Martin Weiss.. "A Transdisciplinary Framework to Align Animal Cognitive Psychology and Social Science Research on Animal Minds," na, 2014.


Please report errors in award information by writing to: awardsearch@nsf.gov.



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