Horns grant advantages to some lizard species but can be a liability to others. Learn how differences in hunting styles might contribute to physical differences in lizard species. At the same time, answer questions about evolutionary trees and convergent evolution while considering the value of analogies in helping understand complex concepts.
Humans have modified organisms for millennia through selective breeding and other techniques. But only in the past few decades have people gained the ability to directly alter organisms’ DNA to create Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). GMOs can help advance fields such as medicine and agriculture. In this activity, students will learn more about GMOs and their uses before creating an awareness campaign to address GMO misconceptions.
Every little bit of rest counts. For a chinstrap penguin, about 10,000 brief snoozes each day can add up to more than 11 hours of rest. Learn how these animals adapted to their environment by managing to grab this much-needed shut-eye. And they do it without relaxing their guard. Then answer questions discussing the relationship between habitats, behavior and sleep patterns.
Working in a social group provides a variety of benefits, including the ability to learn from others and share resources. However, disadvantages can also come with working in a social group. In this activity, students will brainstorm and discuss the pros and cons of social behaviors in a variety of realistic situations. After considering how disturbances affect social behaviors, students will write a paper that evaluates the relationship between disturbances, social behaviors, and population distributions.
This little snake’s “big gulp” puts 7-Eleven to shame. Stretchy tissue in the snakes’ jaws enables them to swallow prey much wider than themselves. And the Gans’ egg-eater snake takes the cake — or egg — for most outsized meals. Learn how snakes gulp down meals much bigger than themselves while answering questions discussing proportions and comparing relative values vs. absolute measurements.
Gardens have many functions ranging from vegetable and fruit production to flood mitigation and erosion control. Gardens also can be a haven for pollinators and a repository for native plants. Over the course of a year, students will design a garden for their school or a community organization using scientific concepts they learn in class.
Light up your class with examples of fluorescence, including recently found biofluorescence in many frog species. Learn about the discovery of fluorescing frogs, discuss the potential evolutionary advantages of fluorescence, answer questions about the chemistry behind fluorescence and perform a demonstration of fluorescence from common objects.
In a “perfect comeback” move, birds may be fortifying their nests with anti-bird spikes plucked from rooftops and eaves. Learn about the new findings and foster healthy skepticism by inviting students to evaluate evidence used in the article to support claims.
How clever! Bees use geometry tricks to make the most of their hive’s space. Learn how bees, wasps and other hive-makers accommodate changes in their colony’s needs, answer questions about evolution’s approach to problem-solving and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of analogies as literary devices.
Some scientists studying animal behavior are interested in whether nonhuman animals are intelligent and self-aware. In this activity, students will explore recent research and draw on their own experiences to consider how intelligence is defined and that definition might differ from one species to another.
Scientists study the tiny fruit fly to understand how organisms work. In this Guide, students will learn how scientists mapped the nerve cells in a larval fruit fly brain — a task that took 12 years — and learn about those cells.
Scientists thought the “love hormone” oxytocin was required to help animals form social bonds. In this Guide, students will learn how a study using a gene-editing tool called CRISPR is questioning that perspective — at least for prairie voles.