The class explores animal intelligence, tool use, and habits of minds of scientists through these discussion questions based on the Are Crows the Ultimate Problem Solvers? video.
Who is 007 and why is Alex interested in him?
007 is a wild crow being tested on a complex puzzle for evidence of problem-solving abilities to challenge the animal’s mind.
What is different about this experimental set-up?
007 has never seen all three parts of the puzzle together: He’s seen the string, the stones, and the stick—but not arranged like this together.
How many steps are there in the puzzle?
There are eight separate stages that need to be completed in a specific order to solve the problem.
What is 007’s first move?
He observes. He takes time to look at the objects. After that, he hops to the branch where he can reach a string.
Stage 1 involves what object and action?
He pulls up the string to reach the short stick.
What does 007 discover about the first object?
The stick is too short for his purposes.
What does 007 do next?
He moves to the stone cage and picks up the first stone, and drops it outside the cage. Then the second stone.
There is a turning point in the 007’s behavior when he appears to understand moving all stones to the box will produce an effect that will help him get the food. Describe the behavior you see at this turning-point moment.
007 pauses after dropping the second stone. He looks up, straight ahead, and seems to be thinking, having a moment of insight in which he creates a plan to solve his problem: he knows how he will use the stones as weights that open a trap door to get him the tool he needs—a long probing stick with which he can stab his meat treat. excited He seems excited about it! He hops more rapidly back to the cage—excitedly—for the third stone, picks it up quickly, takes it to the plexiglass container and drops it in.
What might a scientist call this moment?
The discovery moment! The breakthrough. The lightbulb moment. Eureka!! I’ve got it!
What happens when all the stones are moved?
The long stick falls out of the box and can be used as a probe tool to reach the meat, which is the motivation for 007 to perform this task. He finally gets his food reward, a meat treat that requires a tool to retrieve it.
Planning is considered an advanced form of thinking. Have you ever had an experience in which it was clear to you an animal—your pet, or a crow you were watching—was planning?
Hold a student discussion applying concepts and insights from this unit to frame their experience as a scientific field study based on observation, use of observational evidence, hypothesis building and interpretation, and conclusion.
What is your evidence for your conclusion that the animal was planning?
Hold a student discussion applying concepts and insights from this unit.