A Chimp That Plans Ahead

March 9, 2009


Santino, a male chimpanzee at the Furuvik Zoo in Gävle, Sweden, started throwing rocks at the zoo visitors after he became the only male in the group, which was completed by four females.  He started gathering rocks and concrete when he was calm in the morning and while the zoo was closed.  Apparently he was preparing for the time of the day when he became agitated by visitors.  Primatologist Mathias Osvath of Lund University in Sweden thinks that his behavior is clearly identifiable as planning for a future mental state.

To read more about Santino and the implications of his actions, check out the Science Now article.

Informal Education is Given a “Thumbs-up”

January 30, 2009

museumA new National Study, published January 14th, indicates that informal science activities, such as trips to museums and zoos, viewing of television shows, and even discussions between parents and children, have the power to improve students’ learning.

Education Weekly reports that while it is difficult to assess informal learning, findings have shown that these out-of-school activities foster excitement in students. Not only are students becoming more excited about the curriculum, but the informal interactions seem to do a good job at reaching out to students from different backgrounds.

Looking to motivate your students? Upon discovering the positive outcomes of informal experiences, researchers have identified why these programs seem to draw kids in. Here’s what they found:

Informal learning experiences…

  • draw on learners’ experience and knowledge
  • use everyday language
  • refer to common cultural experiences
  • use familiar tools

Your own house may be the perfect starting point for informal learning. Children can find plenty of games, simulations, and information on the internet to answer their questions, and promote further learning. Check out the RAC-CEMS “Fun Stuff” page to get started today!