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Field Work: Gorillas, Lions, and More

Our "science history" notes this week at Facebook included mention of both Dian Fossey and Joy Adamson. Both women left behind inspiring legacies and volumes of experience gathered from living with, observing, and interacting with animals.

Born on January 16, 1932: Dian Fossey, a famed zoologist whose study of gorillas in Rwanda, Africa is chronicled in Gorillas in the Mist. The book is her own account of thirteen years spent living in an African rain forest and was also later made into a movie starring Sigourney Weaver.


Students can use the BLAST bioinformatics tool to examine the relationship between humans and our non-human relatives in the Neanderthals, Orangutans, Lemurs, & You—It's a Primate Family Reunion! genomics Project Idea.




Born on January 20, 1910: Joy Adamson, naturalist and author, best known (along with her husband George Adamson) for raising and training Elsa, an orphaned lioness, and eventually successfully releasing her into the wild. After Elsa, Adamson worked with other animals, including a cheetah and a leopard. Adamson chronicled her work in a number of books, beginning with Born Free (also made into a movie).

Teaching the family dog to shake hands or give a high five is (depending on the breed) likely far less dangerous than working with a wild animal, but students can begin to explore the ways in which animal trainers approach the process of teaching animals new skills or tricks by working through the Tricks for Treats: How Long Does It Take to Train Your Pet? project.

Making Connections

For a look at ways to turn a love of animals into a career, explore the following science career profiles: zoologist, animal trainer, park ranger, and veternarian.

For other exciting Project Ideas designed to let students explore science questions related to animals, see projects in Zoology, Biology, and Mammalian Biology.

Interested in reading other firsthand accounts from female scientists, zoologists, naturalists, and conservationists? You might also enjoy learning more about Jane Goodall's legendary work, chronicled in titles that include: Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe, My Life with the Chimpanzees, Africa in My Blood: An Autobiography in Letters: The Early Years.



(Science Buddies Project Ideas in Zoology are sponsored by the Medtronic Foundation.)

Science Buddies Science Activities

Science Buddies Summer Science Roundup


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School and family science weekly spotlight: experiment with tonic water and a black light to learn more about fluorescence and light energy!

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Are you a picky eater? Maybe there is a scientific reason for your reluctance to eat certain foods even if you know they are good for you. Find out with a tongue-dyeing taste-testing science project!

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Catch the annual Perseids meteor shower and tie in some fun family astronomy science with an exploration of parallax. How far away are the things we see in the sky?

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School and family science weekly spotlight: make a solar oven from household and recycled materials.

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With different kinds of dried beans, plastic cups, and water, kids can model rocks and observe the way different sized particles in rocks affect how much water a rock can hold.

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Students can experiment with the engineering design process by trying to improve the durability of a simple handheld device.



Your Science!
What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!



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