Humans and dogs have been companions for thousands of years, and the Arizona Science Center’s latest spring exhibit is highlighting this iconic interspecies duo.
With support from the Annenberg Foundation and Wallis Annenberg PetSpace, the Arizona Science Center introduces “Dogs! A Science Tail,” which runs daily through Sunday, April 30. Through a hands-on, family-oriented expedition, the exhibit invites Valley residents to explore the life of a dog and their age-old relationship with humans.
“We are so excited here at Arizona Science Center to be hosting ‘Dogs! A Science Tale,’” says Sari Custer, the center’s chief of science and curiosity. “This is an opportunity for folks to explore the science of puppy love, to explore the connection between dogs and humans, which is years and years and years in the making. Our mission is to inspire, educate and engage curious minds through science, so this is our opportunity to do that.”
The highly immersive exhibit highlights the abilities of canines and humans that enable them to understand and communicate with each other, showcasing life from a dog’s perspective and how they encounter the world through the senses.
“They’re exploring what it’s like to be a scientist working with dogs, how dog selection for different traits have led to the hundreds of different breeds that we have today…” Custer says. “It even explores everything from jobs that you can have that involve dogs, to how we go into actually caring for dogs at home.”
Experiences consist of listening to hidden sounds that dogs can hear but humans can’t, as well as a scent feature that Custer particularly emphasized.
“A dog has so much more ability to sense smell than we do — that’s how they gain information about their surroundings, people and even other animals,” she says. “You have a chance to actually smell these different scents with what they call their scent buttons, and try it yourself and see if you can pick out all the different scents; and the exhibit goes into explanation of how it works and what’s there.”
Other immersive features include walking a robot dog through an interactive neighborhood to understand how pets strengthen the community, an activity where one can test how fast they run in comparison to different breeds, and testing pop-culture knowledge during a game of “Jeopawdy!” based on the show “Jeopardy!”
There is also an opportunity to excavate replicas of actual fossils to determine if they belong to dogs or wolves.
“Guests can see skull examples and bone examples through time, there’s a simulated dig where they can explore and pretend to be an archaeologist,” Custer says. “In that simulated dig, you learn about what it means to study DNA and the history where scientists are looking at that history.”
Additionally, the exhibition features onsite events and outreach to further enhance attendees’ experience.
“One of the other key pieces of this exhibition is our dog park,” Custer says. “So, we have several partners that we are working with here in the Valley that are going to be onsite for live dog interactions.”
Some of the featured groups include the Arizona Humane Society, Fix.Adopt.Save., HALO Animal Rescue and the Arizona Animal Welfare League. Additional groups and events will be added over the course of the exhibition, ranging from therapy dogs to agility groups to law enforcement canines.
“We’re really excited that we can showcase what our community has to offer in the world of animal care and animal welfare, and how animals play a role in our own community. This is a great showcase,” Custer says. “For those who love dogs that may not be able to have dogs at home, this is a chance to see dogs in action. It’s a really unique and exciting portion of this exhibit that we don’t normally get to have.”
The “Dogs!” exhibit is also complemented by screenings of the anticipated documentary “Superpower Dogs,” which is narrated by actor Chris Evans. The Marvel star takes the audience on an immersive adventure educating viewers about the different roles of some heroic dogs in the working world, spotlighting their lifesaving skills and extraordinary bravery.
Daily showings are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
As the Arizona Science Center is always looking for exciting topics that meet its visitors’ needs and interests while incorporating science, Custer said the familiarity of the “Dogs!” exhibit supports its mission by providing an “entry into deeper conversations” in the field.
“First and foremost, I hope guests have some fun. Positive relationships with science are important to us,” she says.
“So having fun first and learning a little something along the way, hopefully walking away knowing that important role that dogs play and how different science aspects come into play, knowing there’s jobs and career paths that involve dogs — all of that is a key takeaway that we’re hoping our guests leave with (as well as the desire to) come back to us for more.”
“Dogs! A Science Tail” exhibit
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through April 30
WHERE: Arizona Science Center at 600 E. Washington Street, Phoenix
COST: $8.95 for general admission and $6.95 for members, children under 3 are free
INFO: For tickets or more information, call 602-716-2000 or visit azscience.org
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