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"Show 303" Guide & Resources

This episode of FRONTIERS presents an exciting international design contest at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For students from the U.S., Germany, Japan and the U.K., engineering was the universal language -- and teamwork and cooperation were absolute essentials. You'll also see a fascinating story about the Channel Island fox, a unique animal that is a link between an ancient Native American culture and present-day biologists who want to want to preserve the fox's habitat. FRONTIERS also goes to Panama for a close-up meeting with an unusual species of spider, one that spins particularly alluring webs to attract bees. And new research on dyslexia hints that this frequently misunderstood problem may have organic, even genetic links. Finally, "The Art of Science" shows how choreographers are using computers to pre-visualize dance performances.

Here are the topics and running times of the stories on this show and a brief description of related activities in this online teaching guide:

  • The Channel Island Fox (running time: 11:43) -- Its numbers threatened by encroaching civilization, the Channel Island fox provides a living link to a 2,000-year-old Native American culture. Activity: A scientific research sampler.
    Report from the Field: Biologist Dave Garcelon.

  • International Design Contest (running time: 13:08) -- Students from four nations team up to see who can build the best machine in an international engineering contest. Activity: Evaluating designs in everyday surroundings.
    Report from the Field: Contest Organizer Prof. Harry West

  • New Research Into Dyslexia (running time: 9:00) -- Widespread and widely misunderstood, this reading disability is the focus of two new research projects that try to establish an organic cause. Activity: An inside look at the brain.
    Report from the Field: Dyslexia Expert Rosemary Bowler.

  • Spider Web-making Stratagems (running time: 12:42) -- A Panamanian spider weaves an alluring web decorated with UV-reflecting silk, an efficient and deadly trap for bees and insect prey. Activity: Building a bug trapper.
    Report from the Field: Biologist Catherine Craig.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.