observing animals in broad areas: gardens, forests, meadows, the beach
endangered primates
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It's a Small World

We are relatively used to observing animals in broad areas: gardens, forests, meadows, the beach. We see the 'big animals' and it often doesn't take too much effort to watch certain aspects of their lives, especially if we know where and how to look. But the natural world is a place where many things happen on a small scale, and the greatest number of species live 'under our radar.'


Divide the class into groups of 2-4 students and take them into a park, beach, garden or forest area. Equip each group with gloves, a notebook, hand lens, and measuring tape. Have each group mark out a one-yard or meter square. First of all they should draw or write an initial observation of their site. They should note the objects in their study area: logs, grasses, rubbish, rocks, water puddles etc. Then using their naked eyes and their hand lens they should make a list or drawings of as many animals as they see. They should turn over objects with care and disturb their subjects as little as possible; all objects should be returned to their original position if moved. No student should put their hands into holes or crevices.

When the activity is complete lists and drawings should be brought back to class and as many species as possible should be identified with field guides and texts.

How many species were observed? How big were the animals? Did students observe them in any recognizable activity (hunting, eating etc.)? What conclusions can be drawn from the diversity of life in the 'square yard ecosystem'?

Note: If species remain unidentified students can send pictures and descriptions to biologists for identification. In some cases the experts at www.tigerhomes.org can help in identification, and www.madscientist.com is another good source of assistance with identification of species and behavior

Objectives: enhanced awareness of bio-diversity in small overlooked areas, an introduction to micro zoology

Lions and Otters and Snakes Oh My

In the film students were introduced to six native Florida species. Due to loss of habitat it is becoming harder and harder to see these species in their native environments. But research on the web and in printed sources will give students information about the how these animals live in the wild.

Divide the class into groups and have each research in detail the lives of one of the species covered in the film. They should learn what each species eats and what species prey on them (if any), the habitat/s in which they live, the types of nests or lairs in which they make their homes, whether they are social or solitary.

When the research is completed, have the students make a model or mural of the animal's habitat. The picture or model should show the animal in its native environment, predator and prey species etc. These artistic renderings can stand independently or the class can work together to create one that includes all the species. This would become a very large model of mural.

Having created a record of the animals' habitat, students can then explore the conservation efforts being made for each species. Some are listed at the end of the film, others can be found on the web. To accompany their art work students can make a guide list of the local organizations and individuals working to protect the animals.

Objectives: deepened knowledge of species depicted in the film "Florida's Wild Future," research skills development

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