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Brooks River Brown Bears: Investigating Inheritance and Variation of Traits with explore.org live cams

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Subject ScienceLife Science
Grade Level Grades 3-5
Resource Type Activity
Standards Alignment
Next Generation Science Standards, State-specific

About This Lesson

By watching live-streaming video of wild bears on Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska, students feel the excitement of exploring science concepts in the real world. These three lessons, designed for grades 3-5, offer students the opportunity to engage in activities that focus particularly on the inheritance and variation of brown bear traits.

ANCHORING PHENOMENON

Every summer, the brown bears of Katmai, Alaska converge along the Brooks River to fish for sockeye salmon.

GUIDING QUESTION

Why are there differences between the ways individual brown bears look and act?

OBJECTIVES

Lesson 1: Understand the difference between inherited and acquired traits.

Lesson 2: Recognize that bears’ fishing techniques are learned, acquired behaviors that can be used as distinguishing traits.

Lesson 3: Identify brown bears based on their inherited and acquired traits.

THE 5E’S

Lesson 1 gives students an opportunity to express what they know about bears. They engage with the Guiding Question, “Why are there differences between the ways individual brown bears look and act?” and make connections between what they know and new ideas about inherited and acquired traits. Lesson 2 allows students to explore the phenomenon of brown bears converging at the Brooks River to fish for salmon. Students discover differences between bears’ fishing techniques, then turn and talk to explain to each other why the  techniques are learned and not inherited traits. Lessons 2 and 3 further provide students with opportunities to elaborate: ask their own questions about bears on the live cams, discuss and compare their ideas, and develop a deeper understanding of individual differences between the inherited and acquired traits of brown bears. As evaluation at the end of Lesson 3, students review and reflect on their own learning and new understandings.

Standards

Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.
Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
collect, record, and analyze information using tools, including microscopes, cameras, computers, hand lenses, metric rulers, Celsius thermometers, wind vanes, rain gauges, pan balances, graduated cylinders, beakers, spring scales, hot plates, meter sticks, compasses, magnets, collecting nets, notebooks, sound recorders, and Sun, Earth, and Moon system models; timing devices, including clocks and stopwatches; and materials to support observation of habitats of organisms such as terrariums and aquariums; and
collect, record, and analyze information using tools, including calculators, microscopes, cameras, computers, hand lenses, metric rulers, Celsius thermometers, mirrors, spring scales, pan balances, triple beam balances, graduated cylinders, beakers, hot plates, meter sticks, compasses, magnets, collecting nets, and notebooks; timing devices, including clocks and stopwatches; and materials to support observation of habitats of organisms such as terrariums and aquariums; and
Explain that although characteristics of plants and animals are inherited, some characteristics can be affected by the environment.
Recognize that animal behaviors may be shaped by heredity and learning.

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