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Project Descriptions

Saving Species: Socially-Networked Exhibits for Science Inquiry and Public Action

August 15, 2010 - July 31, 2014 | Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks, Exhibitions, Informal/Formal Connections
"Saving Species" will engage large and diverse public audiences in inquiry-based learning and environmental stewardship through a system of exhibits at zoos and other informal science education institutions throughout the U.S. The exhibit system will include more than 70 touch screen interactives and related technological infrastructure being created by Project Dragonfly at Miami University (Ohio). Project partners include the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Brookfield Zoo, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, Denver Zoo, Liberty Science Center, Louisville Zoological Garden, New York State Zoo, Oregon Zoo, Pittsburgh Zoo, Riverbanks Zoo, Santa Barbara Zoo, Shedd Aquarium, Toledo Zoo, The Wilds, Woodland Park Zoo, and Zoo Atlanta. Touch screen exhibit components will be designed for specific programs at partner zoos. The partner institutions in this consortium are establishing exhibits nationwide linked to one of three Saving Species campaigns: 1) the Great Ape Campaign allows families to conduct research on captive ape populations and to help save wild apes by joining the work of experienced field researchers; 2) the Wild Cat Campaign focuses on endangered cat species and allows families to join in conservation efforts along with professionals; 3) the Sustaining Life Campaign builds on widespread interest and growing exhibitry in environmental stewardship, renewable energy, and climate change. The consortium includes a shared library of public inquiry and public-action tools (e.g., cell phone recycling), as well as remote monitoring capabilities that provide real-time measures of station success, facilitating the development of variations of exhibit interactives across the country. More than 500 staff from informal science institutions are participating in "Saving Species" professional development through workshops and graduate courses in major cities and conservation sites worldwide. The formal educational opportunities include two new Master\'s degree programs co-delivered by Miami University and informal science institutions: (1) the Advanced Inquiry Program, and (2) the Global Field Program. Strategic partners include the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, public television, Conservation International, and the Society of Conservation Biology. Project evaluation by the Institute for Learning Innovation includes specific assessment protocols that are identifying patterns of engagement by gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic class so that disparities can be addressed across these demographics. A planning study and front-end evaluation will inform the future development of personalized, post-visit engagement opportunities on social networking platforms. "Saving Species" will achieve broad impact nationally, reaching millions of visitors to the participating institutions annually during the funding period and beyond, fostering the relationship between science inquiry and public action, and building multi-institutional partnerships committed to sustaining life on our planet.


Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1010938
Funding Amount: 1899065


  • Christopher Myers
    Principal Investigator
    Miami University
  • Samuel Jenike
    Co-Principal Investigator
    Miami University
  • Discipline: Climate | Ecology, forestry, and agriculture | History/policy/law | Life science | Nature of science
    Audience: Families | General Public | Museum/ISE Professionals
    Environment Type: Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks | Professional Development and Workshops | Resource Centers and Networks | Exhibitions | Aquarium and Zoo Exhibits | Informal/Formal Connections | Higher Education Programs

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