Animal adaptations and science can be combined into a research project for your class. There are many possible projects that allow students to critically consider the adaptations of animals and do research on them. These projects include descriptions of adaptations, hypotheses of adaptation, the adaptive behaviors of animals associated with seasonal change and creative projects aimed at designing an animal with specific adaptations.
All animals alive today have undergone adaptations that have allowed them to continue existing. Students can choose a few interesting animals and investigate the ways in which those animals adapted. Students should also discuss how those adaptations assist the animal in surviving. For example, if a student has included the balloon fish in his choice of animals, he should state that the spines of the balloon fish are an adaptation that provides protection against predators.
Hypothesis and Research
To engage students in a project that requires critical thinking, have them form hypotheses about thought-provoking animal adaptations. The students should then research these animals to confirm or reject their hypotheses. For example, you may assign the feather as an animal adaptation. Students then formulate ideas as to why birds have feathers. Most students will probably hypothesize that the feather allows birds to fly, thereby escaping predators and moving freely. However, upon research, students will find that the feather was a product of evolution that allowed birds to keep warm. Have the students write a report on their findings.
Animals have certain adaptations that let them cope with seasonal changes. You can state this fact and then have the students conduct research into various animals and their adaptations to confirm it. For example, many animals hibernate in the winter as a means to conserve food resources and energy. Some animals migrate to tackle the weather changes associated with the shifts in season. Others grow heavier protective coats of fur or feathers during winter, then shed them when warmer weather returns. Tell students that they will present their findings to the class after they have completed their research.
Create an Animal
For a creative project, consider assigning students an open-ended assignment of designing an animal. Students should create this animal with adaptations in mind. Tell students to draw this animal, list its adaptations and describe how these adaptations will allow it to survive. Make sure that students confirm through research that these adaptations are sensible. Students can name the animal, give it an environment and present it to the class.
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