Lesson Plan

Fly Away! (Homing Experiment)

A golden eagle in flight near a rocky slope
Learn how animals navigation during migration
NPS Photo / Kent Miller

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

Overview

In "Fly Away! (Homing Experiment)," 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 6 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

Students will gather data to see if there is evidence that humans are able to locate a building after being turned around while blindfolded, or if they are able to indicate north after being turned around. They will then answer questions and draw conclusions from their results.

As a class, develop a hypothesis or pose a question for scientific inquiry concerning humans ability to locate when blindfolded.

Identify which direction is north so all students are oriented correctly.

Fill in the "Before you begin" section of the Homing Experiment Worksheet.

One student will blindfold another. Have one student walk the blindfolded student around in an unpredictable pattern for 2 minutes. They may spin them a few times but not enough to make them dizzy. You want to try to disorient them.

When two minutes are up, the student should be asked to point north. Record the results on the worksheet.

Students should be blindfolded again and this time after 2 minutes they should be asked to point to the school building. The data should be recorded on the worksheet.

Conduct three trials for each student, taking turns and recording the results as they go.

Complete the remainder of the worksheet.