Hello Scientists! Welcome to the Forest Ecology Unit on Adaptations! Today we’ll be getting to the bottom of the age old questions: who would win a fight-a grizzly bear or a moose?! Er… Something like that. We’ll be examining different animal adaptations-characteristics that help them survive in their environment. By the end, we’ll understand what sort of timeframe adaptations happen over, and the different kinds of adaptations that exist (Hint: it’s not just wings, sharp teeth, and camouflage, it’s mimicry and living as a pack too!) Let’s go!!! :)
Video 1: Intro
After watching the intro video above, take 10-20 minutes to consider these questions, and write your answers in your field journal!
- Is a human an animal? Why or why not?
- What adaptations do humans have? List at least 5.
- Make a list of as many different animal adaptations you can think of! Come up with at least 15! (*hint: the longer your list, the better off you will be for a game later in this lesson)
- What adaptations would an animal living near the summit of Mt. Hood need? Mt. Hood is an alpine environment, so it has extreme weather: sometimes snowy, stormy, and cold, other times very sunny with a high UV index (sunburn!); the vegetation is “scrubby” (low to the ground with tough leaves), and the slope of the ground can be quite steep!
Next, we’re going to do a listening exercise. Read and follow along with these instructions:
- If you’ve ever seen deer in the wild, you might have noticed that they were looking right at you! That’s because they likely heard you, before you saw them! Humans rely on our eyesight as our primary sense for understanding and interpreting the world (Scientists estimate we get 90% of our information through our eyes!). Due to deer coloring, they blend right into their surrounding environment, making them difficult to spot (what is the science-y way to describe this? … C_______)
- Deer on the other hand, use their hearing as their primary sense. Consider the shape of a deer’s ears:
- What do you notice about them? Do they remind you of anything?
- Now, we’re going to experiment with using our senses differently! First, get your field journal and a pencil (you may be adjusting your data as you move through this experiment, so pencil > pen!), and draw a chart like this:
When you’re finished with all your ratings, below your chart write a few sentences describing this experience and what you noticed, what, if anything, you were reminded of, and what you wonder still about ears and hearing.
To better understand adaptations and how they come to be, watch the video below:
Video 2: Adaptations Defined
Now, let’s think about what we’ve learned from that video and what it all means for living things. Take ~20 minutes to complete the: Unpacking the Mouse Skit Worksheet. You can print the page or just write it into your field journal.
Now that we understand how long it takes for adaptations to occur (GENERATIONS!!!), let’s consider the different types of adaptations. Remember, it’s not just big ears and sharp teeth! Watch the video below:
Video 3: Behavioral vs. Physical Adaptations
Spend at least 15 minutes creating a list in your filed journal (or you can print the worksheet below) of all the physical and behavioral adaptations you can think of!
Before we play our Creature Creation Game, here is a final opportunity to consider even more animal adaptations - both physical and behavioral, and add them to the list in your field journal! With parent permission, go outside for a 10 minute walk in your neighborhood and fill in the Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt below (you can draw this sheet in your field journal or print and fill it in)!
Creature Creation! Now that you have a full list of different adaptations to pick from, we’re going to create a couple crazy creatures to survive some extreme environments. Check out the chart below, and then, in your field journal write a description of, and a drawing of the Creatures you create with adaptations to survive in each of the 3 environments. Using the list of behavioral and physical adaptations you created, add at least 3 physical and 1 behavioral adaptation to each of your creatures. Don’t forget to name your creatures!
When you finish your 3 creature creations, watch this final video:
To finish our adaptations lesson, spend 5-15 minutes answering these Reflection Questions in your field journal: