In this activity, students consider how animals solve the problem of finding food, especially under harsh climatic conditions. They explore how a variety of animals use their senses to find food and how bees, in particular, communicate about food to other bees. Finally, student teams create a scavenger hunt for other teams with clues that require using different senses and that give information about the kind and quantity of food and its location.
- Consider how animals solve the problem of finding food
- Explore how animals use their senses to locate food
- Discuss how bees communicate about food sources
- Plan a scavenger hunt for food, with clues for other student teams to follow
- One to two class periods
- Marathon Migrators QuickTime Video
- Scent of an Alewife QuickTime Video
- Migration of the Monarch QuickTime Video
- Bee Navigation QuickTime Video
- A variety of healthy snack foods for the scavenger hunt
Before the Lesson
- Gather materials for the scavenger hunt or ask students to contribute them.
1. Write one of the following questions on the board for students to discuss:
- Where and how would you find food if the weather suddenly turned harsh and you had no access to your normal food sources (such as the refrigerator, restaurants, supermarkets, etc.)?
- What senses would you use to find food if you were dropped off in a city you had never visited before?
2. Show the video Marathon Migrators and discuss the following:
- How do animals solve the problem of finding food under harsh climatic conditions?
- Horseshoe crabs have come to the same beaches to lay their eggs for hundreds of millions of years. How does this compare to the migratory pattern of red knots?
- How do these animals rely on their senses to migrate and find food?
- How do human senses compare to these animals' senses?
4. Show the Bee Navigation video. Ask:
- How does a bee know how to communicate with the other bees in the hive?
- Why is it advantageous for bees to communicate with each other about food?
- Bees do not have very good vision. How, other than by sight, can a bee find pollen or find its way home again?
- How do you think bees communicate when it isn't sunny?
5. Have teams of students plan a scavenger hunt for food, with clues for other student teams to follow. Like dancing bees, the clues should communicate information such as the kind and quantity of food and the direction and distance of the food source. The clues should involve at least two of the five senses (smell, vision, touch, hearing, taste) and guide students toward the food source without telling them exactly where it is. For example, clues might include head bobbing to one side to indicate direction, and tapping a certain number of times on the other person's hand to indicate distance. After groups have completed each other's scavenger hunts, discuss the following:
- Which clues were easiest to follow?
- Which senses did the clues use?
- Can you come up with clues that expend less energy to communicate about food sources?