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Pika Chew
Camouflage: One Way in which Pikas Avoid Being Caught and Eaten
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials

Prep for Teachers

Copy enough Pika Data Table and Pika Population Growth Table student handouts for each student. Copy one Pika Cooperative Role Card Sheet for each student team. Cut out role cards.

Copy the Pika Spreadsheet onto floppy disks for students, make the file available on your classroom's or lab's computers, or have graph paper available for students to graph by hand.

Cue the Reading Rainbow and World of Nature videotapes to the correct starting points. Bookmark the Web sites you will be using in the lesson. When using media, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments and Web sites
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Place all team items (drinking straws, salad tongs, role card set, and student handouts) in a designated materials station.

Introductory Activities: Setting the Stage

Step 1: Assessing Prior Knowledge About Camouflage

Begin by asking students what they know about camouflage. Write responses on the board and accept all answers. Tell students they will now see a video clip showing how some animals camouflage themselves. Insert the video Reading Rainbow Opt: An Illusionary Tale into your VCR. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, by asking them to view a short video clip and list different ways in which animals camouflage themselves.

With SOUND OFF, START the video when you see the camera zooming in on a rocky field, and after you hear the narrator say, "...to hide from their enemies."

STOP when you see a bird sitting on a branch above a camouflaged insect. Write students responses on the board. (Possible student responses include blending in with the surface they are on, looking like a stick, looking like a leaf, and being as white as the snow around them.)

Now, REWIND and REPLAY the segment with SOUND ON. Ask students to add anything new they have heard.

Step 2:


Tell students they are going to be eagles who are hunting for pikas, animals that may be camouflaged. Before they can begin to hunt, though, they must learn something about their prey to be effective hunters. Divide students into groups of three. Hand out the Role Cards and have students read aloud their roles to their teammates. Ask the Materials Managers to get the Pika Charts from the materials station and hand them out to their teammates. Have the class as a whole brainstorm categories of information about any animal they might study to write on their charts. The first category (diet) is given on the chart. INSERT the video Pika: Ice Age Survivor into your VCR. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to view a short video clip and gather information so they can make predictions about the categories of pika behavior on their charts.

START the Pikas: Ice Age Survivor video from the beginning at the map and the words "World of Nature." PAUSE when you see a close-up of a pika and you hear the narrator say, "This is a pika." Tell students to begin writing. Circulate around the room. If students are unsure of what kinds of categories to list, you can suggest some of these: size, locomotion (how it moves), nesting, activity cycle (diurnal-day or nocturnal-night), temperature regulation (warm-blooded or cold-blooded), reproduction (eggs or babies), and communication (vocal, visual, scent). After five minutes, ask the three members of each team to share with each other. Have them add new categories to their charts. Let them know that differences in predictions are okay.

Step 3:


Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to view an additional video clip and then add to or change their pika charts.

RESUME where you paused. PAUSE when you see a pika disappear into some rocks and hear the narrator say, "Here the winters are very long and very cold."

Allow students five minutes to add to or change their pika charts. (Some facts that are heard are: smaller than rabbits, scurries over rocks, short round ears, digs burrows or lives in holes surrounded by storehouse of grass, tufts of hair on feet, spends most time outdoors collecting grass, lives in cold climates high on mountains, or far north in Alaska or Siberia.) Again, give teams time to share what they heard and add to their charts.

Step 4:


Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to explain how pikas are able to survive the very long and cold winters.

RESUME where you had paused. PAUSE when you hear the music end and you hear the narrator say, "...store it in rocky crevices and caves." The camera will pull back from an image of a pika chewing grass. (Some of the facts heard are that pikas spend the short summer collecting grass; they cut down all the grass and flowers they can find, and store it in rocky crevices and caves.) Ask for answers, write them on the board, and give students time to add to their charts.

Step 5:


Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them how a pika stores its grass. RESUME where you had paused. STOP when you see the camera pull back to show the red pails in the foreground, and you hear the narrator say, "...the red pails, another." (Pikas create several storage piles, each hidden throughout its territory.) Ask for answers, write them on the board, and give students time to add to their charts.

Step 6:


Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to determine which predators hunt and eat pikas. FAST FORWARD to when you see two eagles soaring, and you hear the narrator say, "...watch for other enemies as well."

PLAY when you hear the narrator saying, "Eagles, hawks, and owls can all swoop down from the sky and attack. PAUSE when you see a close-up of a pika and you hear the narrator say, "...and the short chase is over." (Pika predators include eagles, hawks, owls, and ermines. Ask for answers, write them on the board, and give students time to add to their charts.)

Step 7:


Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION , asking them to determine when pikas are most likely to be attacked. RESUME where you paused.

PAUSE when you see a pika running off with another's grass and you hear the narrator say, "...and everyone raids its storage pile." (Pikas are most likely to be attacked when they are collecting food.)

Ask students to predict if there will be a difference in the number of pikas captured by eagles on rock ground versus grassy areas. Have students give evidence to support their predictions.


Learning Activities

Step 1:

Tell students that each group's eagle will now hunt and catch pikas so we can test their predictions. Assign groups to either the rocky or grassy habitat (you will most likely have to go outside for this portion of the lesson). Ask managers to get 20 straws and one pair of tongs. Have students enter how many pikas they will be starting with in their Pika Population Growth Table for Generation 1 (twenty). Have students bring their materials outdoors.

Generation 1: Ask Game Wardens to scatter twenty drinking straws over their habitats. These drinking straws represent pikas and will be hunted by the eagles in the groups. Let them know they will be given a time limit of five seconds. Once the signal is given, they should "capture" pikas with their talons (tongs) and bring them back to their nests (hand them to the Game Warden). At the second signal, stop hunting and put down the tongs.

Step 2:

Generation 2: It's Pika breeding season. Have your students count the number of uncaught pikas (remaining adults) in the habitat and add twice as many (babies) to the habitat (e.g., if there are 13 pikas left, add 26 more). The total population for Generation 2 is now the remainder plus the new ones (e.g., 13 + 26 = 39). Ask students to enter this number in their Pika Population Growth Table for Generation 2. Eagles again hunt as in Generation 1.

Generation 3: It's Pika breeding season again. Have your students count the number of pikas left and add twice as many to the habitat. Ask students to enter the total number in their Pika Population Growth Table for Generation 3. Eagles again hunt as in Generation 1.

Generation 4: It's Pika breeding season yet again. Count the number of pikas left and add twice as many to the habitat. Ask students to enter the total number in their Pika Population Growth Table for Generation 4. Eagles again hunt as in Generation 1.

Generation 5: This will be the final pika breeding season. Have your students count the number of pikas left and add twice as many to the habitat. Ask students to enter the total number in their Pika Population Growth Table for Generation 5.

Step 3: Data Entry and Graphing

Bring the students back inside. Have students graph their five generations of data by hand or enter their data into the spreadsheet.

Step 4: Data Analysis

Have students work with their teams and write the answers to the following questions:
  1. How does color of the habitat affect the ability of a pika to avoid predation?

  2. Was there a trend (pattern) in your population size from generation 1 through 5? If so, what do you predict the population size will be at generation 10?

  3. If eagles need to eat 15 pikas out of each generation to survive, would the eagle in your group have survived?

  4. What would happen if the following environmental factors changed: Annual temperature, annual rainfall, amount of time sunlight fell on the area, different soil type, ratio of animal to plant life?
Allow time for discussion of these questions. If there are striking differences between teams, push students to explore possible reasons


Cross-Curricilar Extensions

Step 1: Internet Research Jigsaw

Let students know they will now conduct Internet research. Assign Web site "A" (see Media Components, above) to Materials Managers, "B" to Game Wardens, and "C" to Eagles. Reorganize the teams so that Materials Managers are working together, Game Wardens are working together, and Eagles are working together.

Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, asking them to spend 15 minutes on researching their assigned Web sites to determine if the information in their pika charts is correct, and adding as much new information as possible. When 15 minutes are up, bring the teams together again to teach each other. Students should make the necessary corrections and additions to their charts during the sharing.

Step 2:

Tell students that since they now have a good understanding of camouflage and pikas, they should be able to predict what pikas will look and behave like in different environments. Tell students that while most pikas live in dry, rocky areas, the northern pika lives in the forests of Siberia and China. Have students discuss with their teammates what they know about forest habitats and to predict what these pikas would look and behave like. Have teams report out, giving evidence for their predictions.

Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to compare their prediction with what they hear and see in the video. FAST FORWARD to where you see a map of Asia and North America, and you hear the narrator say, "There are 16 different types of pika..." PLAY the tape. STOP when you see the split screen of three types of pika and you hear the narrator say, "…store their crop under logs. These pikas are more brownish and yellow and they hide their grass under logs."

Give time for students to discuss their predictions in light of what they have seen.


Cross-Curricilar Extensions

ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS
Students can use the information from their pika charts to write a first-"person" narrative of a day in the life of a pika. Students can include photos from the Hokkaido Photo Gallery (see below) or Kazimir Majorinc Public Source Pictures (see below), or they can draw, sketch, or paint their own pika illustration. Students can also use Coal Creek Elementary School site (see below) to see examples from elementary school children.

Coal Creek Elementary School

http://bvsd.k12.co.us/schools/coalc/wildlife/pika.html

This site features three stories/descriptions of pikas by eight- and nine-year-olds with accompanying photos and drawings by the children.

Hokkaido Photo Gallery

http://www.sf.airnet.ne.jp/zombi/gallery/animal/pika.02l.html

Site has a variety of photos of pikas.

Kazimir Majorinc Public Source Pictures
http://public.srce.hr/XIIIgim/pictures/pika/

Site has a variety of pika photos, drawings, stories, and information.

Note to Teacher:
Be sure that students who choose to include photos or other copied resources from Web sites cite them properly!

TECHNOLOGY
Post the stories created in the above cross-curricular connection on your school's Web site and/or organize students to print and publish them as a class book.


Community Connections

  • Visit a local zoo and discuss camouflage of pikas and other animals.

  • Research the history of Coney Island and how it got its name. One suggestion is that is was named for the conies, or pikas, that lived there. One Web site is:

    Coney Island History Articles

    http://naid.sppsr.ucla.edu/coneyisland/histart.htm