Students Develop Hypotheses
do animals migrate? As students study an animal's life cycle and behaviors
closely, they gather clues about what animals need to stay alive and/or
reproduce. This helps them develop hypotheses about the reasons for migrations.
Migration takes a huge amount of energy, so why do animals do it? Most move
to places where they can better survive during that season. Many migrate to
find food or more liveable conditions (e.g., daylight, shelter, safety from
predators, less overcrowding) for themselves or their young. When cold weather
halts the supply of insects, birds that rely on them head to warmer climates
where food is plentiful. Monarchs spread north in the spring to take advantage
of vast areas with emerging milkweed for their young and nectar for themselves.
all behavioral responses that evolved over time. But don't reveal this
to your students! Have your young detectives use the Checklist
for Student Research. As migration updates arrive throughout the
season, they'll look for clues and gather information about their selected
animal's basic biology and habitat. (Each checklist question relates
to survival of the individual its young.) At the end of the season
they'll re-examine their initial theories about why animals migrate.
Laying the Groundwork:
Help students grasp the idea that behavioral adaptations are responses that
help animals survive in particular environments.
with a classroom discussion about animals' physical adaptations.
Spark students' thinking by asking questions such as, Why do
you think hummingbirds have long tongues? (To reach in and draw
nectars from flowers.) Why are polar bears furry? (To survive
in a cold environment.) Why do humans have thumbs?
discuss how an animal's behavior can also be adapted to
its environment. Unlike physical adaptations, such as fur and fat,
behavioral adaptations are actions animals take in order to survive.
Ask, Can you think of any examples of animal behaviors that help
them or their offspring survive? Students might suggest foraging
for food, building nests, hibernation, and so on. If they don't mention
migration, ask, How might migration help animals survive?
why only some animals migrate. Ask, Which animals stay in our
area year round? What might be some advantages of living in the north
year round? Of migrating south? Of remaining in the tropics? Of migrating
north in the spring? Document students' responses and revisit
these at the end of the season.
- As a class,
make a list of all the Journey North migrations. After discussing why
different animals might migrate (e.g., hummingbirds, whales, cranes),
shift the focus to the animals your students have selected to track
this spring. Challenge students to form their own theories to explain
why these animals migrate. Have each student write a paragraph to explain
his or her hypothesis and make a prediction about when his selected
animals will migrate.
Connections — Discussion
and Journaling Questions
students the Checklist for Student
Research to guide their research throughout the season. If you
have younger students, select just a few questions from each category.
Students can write each question on an index card as use them to
write notes as they discover answers.
By Students in Rod
- As the
migration updates arrive, students should search for clues to their
questions. They may need to find additional resources for climatic
data about a specific region or information on the biology of the
animals being tracked. Journey North Updates will suggest many online
students to constantly evaluate the relative importance of their
research findings. You may want to suggest this clue to help them: Scientists
suspect that the timing of an animal's migration
is closely related to the reason it migrates. Remember,
this mystery is theirs to unfold.
student work from Mr. Murray's
7th grade class in Ontario.
Have students review their theories and predictions about the causes and timing
of migration. Discuss
these questions as a class, in groups, or in essay form:
your hypothesis about the reasons for migration change? What new information
caused you to change your hypothesis? How would you now explain why your
did your prediction compare to the actual timing of migration?
did you learn about the food upon which your animal depends? Does
your animal fit neatly in one spot on a simple food chain, or is
its food chain more complicated?
- How might
your animal's food needs affect where it spends the winter? Where
it spends the breeding season? How might its food needs affect the
timing of its migration? The route it takes?
did you learn about your animal's breeding requirements? What effects
might these requirements have on its migration?
Murray's evaluation rubric
theories about the reasons for migration should include that idea
that animals migrate to find food or other living conditions that
help them and their young survive. Older students should understand
that this behavioral adaptation evolved over many generations as
animals that expressed this behavior were better able to survive
and produce offspring.
Science Education Standards
Use data to conduct a reasonable explanation. (K-4)
Think critically and logically to make relationships between evidence and explanations.
Organisms have basic needs. They can survive only in environments in which
their needs can be met. (K-4)
of individual organisms is influenced by internal cues (such as hunger)
and by external cues (such as a change in the environment). (K-4)
behavior patterns are related to the nature of that organism's environment.
behavior evolves through adaptation to its environment. (5-8)