Bringing cognitive science in action to young minds

Penn Upward Bound high school students from West Philadelphia got a tour of the Penn Smart Aviary, GRASP Lab, and the Penn Vet Working Dog Center during a visit to Pennovation Works.

Eleven high school students stood around the 20-by-8-by-8-foot enclosure at the Penn Smart Aviary at Pennovation Works, focused on the dozen or so brown-headed cowbirds flitting from perch to perch and emitting high-pitched songs.

Biology professor Marc Schmidt and doctoral student Natalia Aponte Borges instructed the students—half of a group visiting that day from Penn Upward Bound—to tally the number of times they observed different behaviors: singing with spread wings, singing with wings down, preening, flying. The second task was to pick a single bird, identifiable by the pair of colored bands on the bird’s legs and follow the bird’s behaviors for three minutes.

Penn Upward Bound high school students observed the behaviors of male brown-headed cowbirds at the Penn Smart Aviary as part of a visit to Pennovation Works that MindCORE coordinated.