Lesson Plan

Fly Away! (Migration Cues)

An eagle perched on snowy rocks
Learn how animals know when it is time to migrate
NPS Photo / Jacob W. Frank

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Grade Level:
Third Grade-Twelfth Grade
Subject:
Biology: Animals, Climate, Ecology, Geography, Science and Technology, Wildlife Biology
Duration:
45 - 60 minutes
Group Size:
8 or fewer
Setting:
classroom
National/State Standards:
National Standards for ...
Science:
Content Standards A, C, E

Overview

In "Fly Away! (Migration Cues)," students will learn how different animals use different senses to know when to migrate and how to navigate.

Our extensive "Fly Away!" curricula unit is broken into twelve lesson plans, each taking 30 - 90 minutes to complete, and targeted at varying grade levels. A class needn't complete every lesson in the unit - each lesson comes with its own set of objectives and resources. This is lesson 5 of the unit.

Objective(s)

Guiding Question: What cues does an animal use to know when to migrate? How do animals orient and navigate during migration?

Critical Content: Animals follow seasonal and life-history cues to know when to migrate. Animals use specific senses to navigate on their way.

Student Objectives: Students will ...

  • create hypotheses
  • design an experiment
  • perform an experiment
  • record data
  • draw conclusions

 



Background

Our extensive "Fly Away!" curricula unit is broken into twelve lesson plans, each taking 30 - 90 minutes to complete, and targeted at varying grade levels. A class needn't complete every lesson in the unit, though some lessons do refer to one another and are better done in sequence. However, each lesson comes with its own set of objectives and resources.

The final lesson, "Fly Away! (Being a Biologist)" can be done independently, as a large research project, or as a final assessment after having done some, or all, of the other lessons in the unit.


Check out the other lessons:

Lesson 1: Exploring Migration
Lesson 2: Climate and Seasons
Lesson 3: Climate and Migration Patterns
Lesson 4: Spatial Migration Game
Lesson 5: Migration Cues
Lesson 6: Homing Experiment
Lesson 7: Bird Modeling
Lesson 8: Golden Eagle Life Cycle Diagram
Lesson 9: Which Way Do We Go?
Lesson 10: The Race South
Lesson 11: The Safe Zone
Lesson 12:Being a Biologist



Procedure

As a class, make a list on the board from the Migration Basics reading of different cues that animals use to know when to migrate, the different senses animals use to navigate and give examples of species that use these cues and senses.

Split the class into small groups, each group picks one migratory animal species. In their groups, students brainstorm how a researcher might study the migration of that species.

Each group creates a hypothesis for how the animal knows when to migrate, and designs an experiment for researchers to test their hypothesis.

Each group then creates a hypothesis for how the animal navigates during migration, and designs the experiment for researchers to test this hypothesis.

Have each group create a small poster that shows their hypotheses, how they would research migration cues and navigation, and what results they might expect to find if their hypotheses were correct and if they were incorrect. The teacher may decide how realistic the research logistics should be.

Each group present their poster describing their hypotheses and proposed research. The class should ask questions about each others' research and how it will answer the hypotheses and what conclusions they might draw depending on the data they could collect.

Discussion Questions:

1. What are the easy things to study and what are the harder things to study?

2. What kinds of ideas and information did you use to create your hypotheses?

3. If you could create an invention to aid in the research of your species, what would it be?