In this activity, students examine some of the behaviors and physical characteristics that enable organisms to live successfully in their environment. Students begin by viewing and discussing a video about two friends -- one living in a desert and the other living in a rainforest -- who e-mail each other with information about their environment and the organisms that live there. Afterwards, if possible, students exchange via e-mail similar information with students from a different environment. Next, students watch videos about organisms and their adaptations to the Arctic tundra and Sonoran desert biomes. They compare the two biomes with each other and with their own environment. Students then explore animal camouflage (a type of adaptation) through a video and Web activity. Finally, they design organisms that are adapted to a new environment by camouflage.
- Compare the climate and organisms found in different environments
- Give examples of how plants and animals are adapted to their environment
- Design an animal that is adapted by camouflage to a made-up environment
- One to two class periods
- Teri and Jairus: Biome Buddies QuickTime Video
- Desert Biome QuickTime Video
- Arctic Tundra QuickTime Video
- Evolution of Camouflage QuickTime Video
- Seeing Through Camouflage Shockwave Interactive
- Crocodiles! Clickable Croc HTML Interactive
- If you want students to create their animal designs in class, provide art materials such as markers, paper, magazines, scissors, and glue.
After the Lesson
- Display students' animal camouflage designs in the classroom.
1. Show the Teri and Jairus: Biome Buddies video. Ask students:
- How would you describe in an e-mail to Teri or Jairus your environment and some of the organisms that live there?
- Choose an example of a plant or animal that has adapted to the desert conditions of Death Valley. What physical features enable the organism to live successfully in this extreme environment?
- Choose an example of a plant or animal that has adapted to the rainforest conditions of the Pacific Northwest. What physical features enable the organism to live successfully in this extreme environment?
- How does learning about an extreme environment like the desert or rainforest help you understand what is meant by adaptation?
2. If possible, arrange for your students to e-mail students from a different environment. Have students exchange information about their environment and the plants and animals that are adapted to living there -- just as Teri and Jairus did. If you have access to a digital camera, have students send digital photos of their surroundings to accompany their messages.
- If you want help finding cyberpals for your students, see the epals.com (http://www.epals.com) Web site.
- Describe and compare the environmental challenges encountered in the Arctic tundra and the desert biomes.
- Choose several organisms that live successfully in each place, and describe how they are adapted to their particular environment.
- Could the organisms you chose live successfully where you live? Explain your answer.
- Compare the Sonoran Desert and Arctic tundra with the environment in which you live.
4. Explain that one way animals adapt to their environment is by camouflage. Have students explore this survival mechanism by first watching the Evolution of Camouflage video and then by doing the Seeing Through Camouflage and Crocodiles! Clickable Croc Web activities.
5. For homework, have students draw, make dioramas, or collages to design an animal that is camouflaged in its own environment. Share students' work in class and discuss if there are any parallel examples in the natural world.