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Eat Like A Bird


Today's challenge is to collect "food" using different types of "beaks" and to find the food that's easiest to pick up. Do you like worms? Just kidding!

  • Target Age: 6-11
  • Skills/Subjects: Science
  • Related Episode: Episode 18: Scat Cat, Scat

WHAT TO DO

1. Get what you need:

  • Activity sheet for each kid
  • Group data sheets (see Prepare Ahead)
  • Pencils (one per kid)
  • Cups (one per group)
  • 10 tongue depressors
  • Masking tape
  • 3-5 of each of the following "beaks": round toothpicks (flat toothpicks break too easily), spring-action wooden clothespins, spoons, and forks
  • "Food" items (at least three of each item per kid): marbles, dried lima beans, dried kidney beans, pennies, paperclips, paper wadded into grape-sized balls, and thin rubber bands

2. Prepare ahead.(a) Make tongs: crumple a strip of paper into a wad about the width of a finger. Put the wad between two tongue depressors. Secure with a rubber band. Adjust so the tongs open when not in use. (b) Make a "Feeding Area." Use masking tape to make a circle 6-8 feet in diameter and a starting line 8-10 feet away. (c) Prepare a chart. Make three group charts so you can record the results of Rounds 1, 2, and 3. The example below is set up for three teams of kids. Adjust your chart according to how many teams you have.

Round 1
Food

Group 1
Beak
Tool=_______________

Group 2
Beak
Tool=_______________

Group 3
Beak
Tool=_______________

Marbles   
Lima Beans   
Kidney beans   
Pennies   
Paperclips   
Paper balls   
Rubber bands   
Total amount
of food
   

 

3. Introduce Ruff's challenge. Explain that in today's challenge, kids will gather "food" using tools that are like birds' beaks. Show them the five different "beaks," (including the tongs you made). Ask:

  • How might a bird with this beak type gather food? (Spoons and forks scoop. Toothpicks and forks poke and stab. Tongs and clothespins grab.)
  • Which kinds of foods do you think would be the easiest to pick up with each of these beaks? Which will be the hardest to pick up? (Record the predictions on a board or chart.)

4. Test predictions by playing Round 1. Tell kids this game is a relay race. The goal is for each team to collect as much food as possible—the number of collected items is what counts, not the size or type. Review the following rules

  • Stand with your team behind the starting line. The person at the front of the line runs into the circle, picks up one piece of food using the beak, carries it back to the starting line, puts it into the cup, and hands the beak to the next person in line.
  • Only the beak can touch the food—no hands allowed!
  • Collect only one piece of food per turn.
  • If you drop your food, use your beak to pick it up again.
  • Remember, collecting more pieces is better. Don't worry about the size of the food you get.

Divide the group into teams of three or four. Give each team a cup, pencils, activity sheets, and one kind of tool. Then sprinkle the food in the circle and tell kids:

"When you hear "Go!," your team has five minutes to collect as many pieces of food as possible."

5. Discuss what happened. After five minutes, have each team fill in the data table (below), recording the tool used and the amount of each food collected. Record each team's data on the group data chart (see Step 2). Compare how much food each team collected. Ask:

  • Which birds can survive on a wide variety of foods and which can survive on only a few kinds? (Beaks with similar totals for many foods represent birds that can survive on a wide variety of foods. Beaks with high totals for only one or two kinds of food represent birds that can survive on only a few foods.)
  • If a certain food became unavailable, how might that affect the different birds? (Birds that depend on a food that becomes unavailable would go hungry. Birds that eat many different kinds of food could still feed.)

6. Play Round 2. Assign each team a new kind of beak. Inside the circle, redistribute the food collected in round 1 and return the empty cups to the teams. Repeat steps 4 and 5 (i.e., it's the same as round 1).

7. Discuss what happened. Draw kids' attention to the data on the group chart.

  • In our game, if you wanted to make life easy for birds with tong-like beaks, which foods would you put in the circle? (Marbles)
  • Which birds couldn't live in a habitat that had only marbles to eat? (Birds with toothpick-like beaks)
  • Habitats usually offer many different kinds of food. When fully stocked, would the "habitat" inside our circle be suitable for a wide variety of beak shapes or for only a few? Why? (A wide variety, since there are many kinds of food)

8. Play Round 3. Let kids apply what they learned. Tell them:

"This time, you choose the kind of beak you'll use. Use the data on the group chart to help figure out which beak will help you collect the most food. Otherwise, it's the same as Rounds 1 and 2.

Round 1
Beaked used:
____________
Item# Collected
Marbles 
Lima beans 
Kidney beans 
Pennies 
Paperclips 
Paper balls 
Rubber bands 
Total 
Round 2
Beaked used:
____________
Item# Collected
Marbles 
Lima beans 
Kidney beans 
Pennies 
Paperclips 
Paper balls 
Rubber bands 
Total 
Round 3
Beaked used:
____________
Item# Collected
Marbles 
Lima beans 
Kidney beans 
Pennies 
Paperclips 
Paper balls 
Rubber bands 
Total 


CHEW ON THIS!

All dogs, cats, plants, bugs, and other creatures have features that improve their chances of surviving in particular habitats. For example, pelicans scoop fish from the ocean and woodpeckers find insects under tree bark. If a pelican were blown into a forest or a woodpecker blown out over the ocean, they would have to return to the habitat for which they are adapted or else risk starving.

DIG DEEPER!

  • Now that we've got you looking at beaks so carefully, think about the features other animals have to help them find food and survive. Over the next week, watch any animal. Think: What helps them get the food they need? For example:Do you like challenges using tools in unusual ways? Race a friend to see who can pick up the most marbles using chopsticks. Get the Chop Sticks Pickup challenge from the ZOOM Web site.
    • Squirrels: What foods do they eat? What body parts or behaviors help them get it?
    • Fish: Drop fish food into a tank. What helps the fish find and eat the food?
    • Ants: Closely follow an ant! How does it find food? Did you know that ants can carry 20 times their weight? Imagine if you could do the same!
  • Do you like challenges using tools in unusual ways? Race a friend to see who can pick up the most marbles using chopsticks. Get the Chop Sticks Pickup challenge from the ZOOM Web site.

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