E.T. A LOCAL WAY OF LEARNING
Author: Jane Ducey
Eulalie R. Rivera Elementary School
Grade Level: 3-4
2. Ecosystems 1.Science
3. Carrying Capacity 2.Math
Students will engage in an activity wherein camouflage determines the outcome
for each student. Skills of sorting, catagorizing counting, data keeping,
hypothesizing and theorizing will be used.
Animals use many means to avoid becoming prey to predators. Examples are
kicking, scratching, biting, stinging, or being fleet of foot or fin. One
often-used means of escape is that of camouflage. The animal whose coat pattern
matches the background, or "eye spot" makes it seem to be traveling in the other
direction, etc. lives to pass on this viable trait or coat pattern. Looking like
an evil tasting animal is another whole set of "look alike animals who cash in
on the defense mechanism of the other.
One set of colored toothpicks with equal numbers of each color (red, green,
yellow or natural, dark blue or brown). Count the number of each color you have
at the start.
Use as many pictures of examples of camouflage, on land and in the sea, as you
can find for discussion purposes. A faun is speckled and blends with the ground
of dappled sunlight through the leaves. A Viceroy butterfly looks like a
poisonous Monarch and so both are avoided by birds, although the Viceroy would
make a good meal. You might relate this to the Armed Forces use of camouflage in
uniforms and equipment.
Discuss the means of avoiding being seen by the "hunter" each of them
Distribute, or broadcast, the toothpicks on the lawn in reasonably short grass.
Working in teams, have the students find the toothpicks in an allotted time,
depending upon the age of student and conditions of the ground (5 to 10 minutes)
Each team will then sort their collective toothpicks and fill out the data sheet
with the number of each color they found.
Depending upon the grass (whether it is green, or perhaps full of dry yellow
grass clippings, patches of soil, etc.) each team will discover that they have
the least green (or yellow, etc.) toothpicks. Add up all the team results and
reveal the number distributed at the start. Older students can express the picks
found as a percentage, for each color.
1. Ask the class why they were unable to see (whichever) toothpicks that are not
found? Let them suggest the reasons. Might a colorblind child find all the
colors" What it the grass had red leaves mixed in it, such as when the mahogany
trees turn color?
2. Draw pictures of camouflaged animals.
3. Write a story about the beneficial use of camouflage to a particular animal.
4. Some students might like to learn about and report the military aspects of
camouflage such as the painting of roofs against air reconnaissance. How does
infra-red photography operate in this case?
Sample Tally Sheet
THE GREAT TOOTHPICK HUNT
GREEN RED YELLOW BLUE
Team Total Team Total Team Total Team Total
Class Total Class Total Class Total Class Total
Original Original Original Original
Total Total Total Total
*SBC *SBC *SBC *SBC
Difference Difference Difference Difference
*Saved by Camouflage