Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
SAF Archives  search ask the scientists in the classroom cool science
past teaching guides
interactive activities
cool careers in science
in the classroom

Animal Einsteins Guide & Resources intelligent are they? In this episode of Scientific American Frontiers you'll meet some scientists who've studied the communication thought processes and problem-solving skills of animals and have discovered that they're a lot smarter than we thought. Take Rocky the sea lion for example. With the help of trainers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Rocky has learned to understand a special sign language. Fetch, touch, ball, bat and frisbee are just part of her vocabulary. Join host Alan Alda as he visits with Rocky and other Animal Einsteins in a quest to find out how -- and how much -- animals think.

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

  • If Only They Could Talk! (running time: 9:59) -- Meet a pig and a sea lion that understand sign language and a parrot that speaks English. Activity and Discussion: Solve a puzzle by decoding symbols.

  • Who Needs Words Anyway? (running time: 10:47) -- Is language essential to thought? Watch as researchers try to answer that question. Activity and Discussion: Observing animal communication.

  • Number Crunchers (running time: 7:15) -- Meet monkeys that count and chimpanzees that do fractions. Activity and Discussion: Understanding binary counting systems.

  • Figure That One Out (running time: 7:43) -- Watch as ravens and cotton-top tamarins solve some tricky problems. Activity and Discussion: Solving puzzles.

  • No Fools About Tools (running time: 4:46) -- What does animals' ability to use tools tell us about their intelligence? Activity and Discussion: Define and measure dog IQ.

  • Thinking About Thinking (running time: 10:20) -- Chimps and monkeys seem to understand what other animals think. Discussion and Activity: Be an animal observer.

  • Viewer Challenge -- After you watch Animal Einsteins, test your viewing skills with ten questions about the show!


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