Abstract # 55:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 19, 2008 05:00 PM-07:00 PM: Session 4 (Ball Rooms A and B) Symposium

Motivating a new generation of primatologists: the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Exploring Ape Behavior Program

M. W. Foster, S. A. Linick, M. S. Milstein, K. E. Wagner, S. W. Margulis, S. R. Ross and E. V. Lonsdorf
Lincoln Park Zoo , 2001 N. Clark St. , Chicago, IL 60614, USA
     Participatory science education offers promise for engaging non-scientists and encouraging them to learn about and appreciate the utility of the scientific method for answering questions. According to results of the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress Science Assessment, U.S. 12th graders were among the lowest scoring students from the 41 nations that participated in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study. Great apes are an ideal taxon with which to build a science education program. They are some of the most popular species at zoos: approximately 90% of visitors reported visiting the apes during their visit to Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois. Therefore, Lincoln Park Zoo designed a new program to offer adults and children aged 12 and older a unique opportunity to learn about the value and utility of the scientific method through a participatory great ape behavioral research program delivered by the zoo’s research staff. Participants are given a lecture on great ape research and behavioral methodologies, after which they are trained to identify individual animals and to collect quantitative behavioral data using handheld computers. In the 2006 pilot sessions of the program, 76% (n=42) of participants affirmed they learned more about science and great ape behavior than they expected, 92.3% viewed the experience as “informative,” and 100% expressed interest in similar presentations about other animals at the zoo.