Vision - Red tailed hawks
endangered primates
 
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It's A Vision Thing

Red tailed Hawks hunt mainly using their sight; as is true for most humans, vision is their dominant sense. But as is the case with most raptors, 'Red Tails' visual acuity is significantly better than ours. Have students explore the sense of sight in nature. Have each student pick three species that rely on vision to help them navigate the world. Variation in their choices will provide the best results… a vulture species, a spider species, a primate for example.
Having researched their chosen species have each student (or groups of students) create visual projects, perhaps art forms that attempt to show the world from the visual perspective of a spider, or the savanna from the perspective of an Egyptian Vulture gliding at 15,000 feet.
Students could also try and imagine their lives if they had the visual ability of an eagle, or a nocturnal mammal; have them write an account of a day in the life of a member of a fictional human society whose inhabitants see far better than we do.

CLICK HERE TO SEE ANIMAL WEBCAMS

Objectives: an enhanced understanding of the sense of sight, knowledge of variations in the uses and qualities of sight in different species



Do You Hear What I Hear?

For many animals sight is not the primary sense they us to interpret their world. Hearing is a sense that many animals rely on most heavily. Many owl species, while they have wonderful night vision, hunt more with their ears, and can catch prey even when there is no light to see by. Coyotes and Foxes can hear small animals below ground, and pounce on them with amazing accuracy using sound as their only guide. Have students explore what sounds animals hear: movement, vocalizations etc., … and at what levels, high frequency, low frequency etc.

Having discussed the role sound plays in the lives of many animals, have students break up into pairs. Either during class time, or as an after school assignment have one member of the team blindfold the other, take them to an unnamed destination, and lead them around the area for half an hour. During this time the guide student should not speak (unless the blindfolded partner is in danger). The guided student should note all that she or he hears, the sounds on the way to and at the destination. After half an hour the blindfolded student should attempt to guess their location. Whether their identification is correct or incorrect, after revealing the location the guided student should make a list of the significant sounds they heard.

The pair should then change roles and the excersize should be repeated on a second day. When all the students have been both 'guided' and 'led', the class should come together and discuss the sounds they heard. What auditory clues did they get to their locations? What sounds did they observe that they had not really noticed previously? Did they hear more when they did not have their eyes to rely on?

Variation: For students who might prefer to work alone or for a more meditative version of the activity, have students pick a favourite outdoor place. They should then blindfold themselves and sit quietly for 15 minutes to half an hour, and observe the sounds they hear.

Note: For both of the previous activities there are many good web sites which may be of help. An excellent one, Neuroscience for Kids can be found at:

http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/introb.html

Objectives: an enhanced understanding of the sense of smell, knowledge of variations in the uses and qualities of olfaction in different species

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