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        6-8, 13+

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        Part of NOVA
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        Animal Hearing: Lesson Plan

        In this lesson, students explore how sound is created, the importance of hearing in certain environments and some environmental causes of hearing loss.

        Lesson Summary


        In this activity, students learn how an animal's sense of hearing is adapted to -- as well as affected by -- its environment. They begin by exploring how a shark's senses enable it to be an efficient predator. Students then compare a shark's senses to those of a land animal of their choice, and discover how each animal's senses are adapted to its particular environment. Next, they focus on the sense of hearing, and a common cause of hearing loss: continual exposure to loud noises. Students learn how a change in the way that an Arctic community hunts -- using rifles instead of harpoons -- has caused widespread hearing loss. Finally, students research noise levels in their environment and conduct a public awareness campaign about noise pollution and the associated hearing loss.


        • Compare a shark's senses to those of a land animal
        • Consider how an animal's senses help it adapt to its environment
        • Explore the importance of hearing in certain environments
        • Recognize the environmental causes of hearing loss
        • Research decibel levels in their environment
        • Conduct a public awareness campaign about noise and hearing loss

        Suggested Time

        • Two to three class periods

        Multimedia Resources


        • Decibel meters, if available (Try your local health office, companies that do environmental studies, sound technicians, or DJs.)

        The Lesson

        Part I

        1. Have students do the Shark Attack! The Hunt Web activity. Then discuss the following:

        • How do the shark's senses make it the "perfect predator"?
        • Do you think marine fishes have the same sense organs as sharks? Explain your answer.
        • How do the shark's sense organs compare with those of a land animal? Choose one of the senses and compare and contrast the challenges of each animal. Also describe how the sense organ of each animal has adapted to its particular environment.

        2. Show the Animal Hearing video and have students consider the following:

        • What are some environmental conditions or ways of life that make hearing a particularly important sense for an organism?
        • Give an example of an environment in which hearing is not as important for survival, and explain why you think this is so.

        3. Show the video Moriussaq: A Case Study in Hearing Loss and discuss the following:

        • Would you expect people who live in the Arctic to have a more-acute or a less-acute sense of hearing than people who live in more populated areas? Explain your reasons.
        • How has the changing way of life for Arctic inhabitants resulted in widespread early hearing loss?
        • Are people in your community exposed to loud noises that might cause hearing loss? What are the sources of some of the loud noises?
        • How might hearing loss affect the ability of people in your community to survive? Explain.

        4. Have students research the decibel levels of some common noises in their environment, and compare these to the decibel levels that cause hearing loss. Allow students to use the Web (search for key words such as decibel, noise, and noise center) and the library. If you have access to a decibel meter, have students compare the decibel levels for different activities and in different areas of the school at different times of day. Then have students present their findings and conduct a public awareness campaign (using video, brochures, and presentations) for the school and their families about high decibel noises and how to prevent hearing loss.


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