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A Tiger Homes Lesson


Modern technology is allowing scientists and non-scientist new glimpses into the lives of many species.

Have students log on to the tiger homes web site at www.tigerhomes.org and visit one of their camera sites. Here we can see a great way that technology allows us all to observe the behavior of lemurs and tigers and lions. But the use of technology isn't limited to experts. Students can make their own video or still footage records of the behavior of animals closer to home.

If the class has a pet, (hamster, mouse, guinea pig etc.) a video camera can be used to record the behavior of even this familiar friend. Set up the camera near the cage, focus it on the occupant's feeding area and run the camera at the time when he or she usually eats. Or set the camera to cover the whole cage area and run it for half-hour periods when the occupant is active.

Often the camera will catch behavior that the casual observer misses. And when viewed slowly and carefully new things can be learned.
-Does the subject eat food in a particular way? If its diet is a mixture of foods, are some eaten first? Are others ignored?
-Does the subject groom in a special area in its cage? Does it eliminate in a particular area? Does it play in a particular area?
-How does the subject groom itself?
-What kind of vocalizations does it make?

By slowing down the tape speed details of behavior can be observed and students can pause tape to look at details of anatomy and perhaps draw and study them further.

If students make a particularly good tape the guys at Tiger Homes would be thrilled to see it and perhaps put it up on their web site. Contact information is available at the site.

Objectives: deepened understanding of animal behavior, application of technology to study of animal behavior

The Powers of Myths and Myth Makers

Modern scientists can tell us a great deal about the lives of the animals with which we share our world. But native peoples have always been keen observers of their animal neighbors. Their understanding helped them to live side by side, often in relative harmony with the other animals in their world. Their knowledge also helped them be effective hunters of prey, and evaders of potential predators. Indigenous peoples had a deep respect for the plants and animals they encountered. This respect was/is displayed in many ways… not the least of which lies in the stories they told about the animals.

Have students research Native American myths associated with a species native to North America. There are numerous sites on-line, and books such as "American Indian Myths and Legends" are good sources for some of these stories.

Have each student bring one of these stories to class and retell the tale to their classmates. They should not read the stories aloud; but tell them as the original participants would have told them. After completing the tale, have the class discuss how the observed behavior of the animal in the wild might have been the inspiration for the story created about them.

Have students choose an animal they have studied and or observed in some detail and have them make a modern myth about that animal. The story should in some way (this can be tenuous) reflect an element of the animal's behavior, but should also tell us something about the world in which the student lives.

Have students choose a Native American animal myth, or one that they or their classmates have written and create a piece of illustrative artwork. These can be contemporary in style or can reflect a traditional style of art.

Objectives: introduction to Native American perceptions and observations of native species, integration of science and art

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