Nature


This collection of science videos and media-enhanced lesson plans draws upon the powerful documentaries of public television’s award-winning natural history series, Nature. The video segments have been carefully selected to engage students with key curriculum concepts. The lesson plans incorporate hands-on activities, online resources, and video to interactively and creatively address topics and standards in Life Science/Living Environment and Earth Science.

See below in the "Explore Collection" section for the latest resources from Season 35 of NATURE. 

  • Rainforest Pharmacy: Jungle Medicine and Nutrition

    Learn how animals in the Amazon rainforest utilize natural resources for medicinal purposes in this video from the NATURE mini-series Spy in the Wild. Part of the episode “Intelligence,” this video shows how animals have discovered ways to supplement their diets, prevent disease, and counter the effects of harmful toxins by consuming certain trees and even mud! Teaching tips ask students to explore their own dietary needs and to consider how food provides vitamins and minerals needed to maintain their health. Another tip suggests that students research medicines with ingredients found in the rainforest.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Learned Behavior in Capuchin Monkeys

    Learn how capuchin monkeys in Brazil have developed a cultural tradition of cracking nuts in this video from the NATURE mini-series Spy in the Wild. Part of the episode “Intelligence,” this video shows monkeys learning to use an anvil and stone to access their primary food source. Teaching tips ask students to explore learned behavior, their understandings of culture, and more generally how scientists observe animals in the wild.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Structure and Function: Hummingbird Tongue

    Learn how the structure of hummingbird tongues are specialized for their function of drinking nectar in this video from NATURE: Super Hummingbirds. In the accompanying classroom activity, students analyze video data on hummingbird feeding.

    Grades: 6-8
  • Cellular Respiration In Scarce Oxygen: Hummingbird Adaptions at High Altitudes

    Learn how hummingbirds maintain their fast metabolism in low oxygen, high-altitude, conditions with super powered hemoglobin in this video from NATURE: Super Hummingbirds. In the accompanying classroom activity, students analyze hard data on the oxygen affinity of several hummingbird species and how that powers cellular respiration. The teaching tips describe how students can analyze hemoglobin gene structure and function for hummingbirds with various oxygen affinities. The activities and critical thinking discussion questions are designed to be used as part of a curriculum that addresses cellular respiration and metabolism or gene structure and function.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Engineering Robotic Cameras to Observe Animals in Nature

    Learn how filmmakers use the engineering design process to make animatronic spy cameras in this video from the NATURE mini-series Spy in the Wild. The cameras are disguised as animals to secretly record behavior in the wild. The episode Meet the Spies highlights many of the criterion and constraints the filmmakers face while designing the spies, which can be further explored with the teaching tips in the support materials. In the accompanying classroom activity, students use the engineering design process to design a camera carrier to observe animals in the wild.

    Grades: 3-8
  • Climate Change is Shrinking the Sierra Nevada Snowpack

    Learn how climate change is shrinking the Sierra Nevada snowpack in this video from NATURE: Yosemite. The video follows members of the California Cooperative Snow Survey as they measure snow levels and discuss trends they’ve observed in 34 years of living in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. In the accompanying classroom activity, students use the engineering design process to design tools to study snowfall themselves. The teaching tips suggest that students analyze data from the California Cooperative Snow Survey.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Giant Sequoias: a Climate Change Resilient Ecosystem?

    Learn how giant sequoias are suffering from climate change induced drought in this video from NATURE: Yosemite. The sequoias provide a ray of hope, as they may be more resilient to long term drought than the rest of the Sierra Nevada. In the accompanying classroom activity, students conduct an inquiry-based investigation of the effects of anthropogenic environmental changes on plant growth.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Tool-Making Crows

    Learn about crows known for crafting tools in this video from the NATURE mini-series Spy in the Wild. Part of the episode “Intelligence,” scientists study the behavior of the New Caledonian crow as they use sticks as a tool for catching grubs hidden in hard to reach crevices. Teaching tips ask students to think about their understanding of intelligence, tools used by humans, and how scientists observe animals in the wild.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Arctic Wolf Cubs Learn Pack Behavior

    Learn about pack behavior in this video from the NATURE mini-series Spy in the Wild. Part of the episode “Bad Behavior,” this video shows how young cubs must learn the rules of their pack and submit to older group members in order to survive. Support materials ask students to keep a spy journal to record their observations and to think about how the spy wolf is able to witness pack behavior closer up than a human scientist. Students are also encouraged to think about how the structure of a wolf’s body —specifically it’s jaw—determines how it interacts with other wolves.

    Grades: K-5
  • Nest Building Teamwork

    Learn about how a pair of Red-Billed Hornbills work together as a team in this video from the NATURE mini-series Spy in the Wild. Part of the episode “Love,” this video shows the unique way these birds keep their nest safe. Support materials include a review worksheet and a fun hands-on activity which challenges students to think like a Red-Billed Hornbill and design a way to protect the mother bird and her nest. 

    Grades: K-4
  • Unlikely Partners: Warthog and Mongoose

    Learn about the unusual animal partnership between warthogs and mongooses in this video from the NATURE mini-series Spy in the Wild. Part of the episode “Friendship,” this video shows how two very different animals help one another in the African savannah. Support materials ask students to recognize the benefits of animal partnerships in the wild. Students are also encouraged to think about the friendships in their own lives and how they are similar or different from animal relationships.

    Grades: K-5
  • Monkey Babysitter

    Learn about how young Indian Langer Monkeys practice for motherhood in this video from the NATURE mini-series Spy in the Wild. Part of the episode “Love,” this video shows how challenging monkey babysitting can be. Support materials ask students to think about the importance of practice in order to build skills.  Students are also encouraged to think about the needs of baby animals and the challenges of caring for young.

    Grades: K-5
  • Animal Adaptations: Jaguar Jaws

    Learn how jaguars have refined on the jaw adaptations of ancestral cats to the extent that they can take down giant caiman reptiles in this video from NATURE: The Story of Cats. In the accompanying classroom activity, students compare cat and dog adaptations.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Animal Adaptations: Fishing Cat

    Learn how the semiaquatic fishing cat evolved millions of years ago to live in the wetlands of South and Southeast Asia in this video from NATURE: The Story of Cats. The accompanying activity prompts students to write an argument-based essay about the impact of environmental changes in Asia millions of years ago on the fishing cat population.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Coevolution: Cheetahs and Pronghorns

    Examine the impact a long extinct cheetah-like cat had on the evolution of the American pronghorn in this video from NATURE: The Story of Cats. Teaching tips ask students to engage in argument from evidence about the future of the pronghorn population in the absence of predators that can match their speed. Students also explore the coevolution in the video and compare it to other examples of coevolution.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Ecological Antagonists and Partners: Trees, Beetles, and Woodpeckers

    Learn how beetles destroy spruce trees — and how spruce trees fight back — in this video from NATURE: Forest of the Lynx.Teaching tips ask students to explore the ecological relationships in the video and compare them to ecological relationships from other ecosystems

    Grades: 5-12

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