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Ambush Warriors

Robert Redmon
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Grade Level
Time Alloment
 Four 45-minute class periods for lesson and research.

Two weeks for student-generated video assignment.


Snakes are the most modern of reptiles, first appearing in the fossil record during the time of the dinosaurs. It is believed that they evolved from lizards and that they exploited the survival advantages to be found in a cylindrical, legless body. In this lesson, through the use of the video NATURE: Snakes-Deadly Companions and interactive Web sites, students will learn about the various adaptations that snakes have made over the years. They will learn how snakes developed elongated internal organs, specialized muscles and resilient, scaled skins of various patterns and colors that provide camouflage and some limited protection from predators and the elements. Students will also discover how snakes have developed a host of instinctive behaviors that enable them to find and catch prey and hide from predators in various geographical regions. By swimming in the seas, climbing in the crowns of trees, and crawling on the land, snakes have become integral components of varied ecosystems throughout the world. Some snakes have evolved infrared heat sensors to find prey in the darkness of night or burrow. Some have developed venoms of such complexity that -- unlike most biochemical substances -- they cannot yet be manufactured through biotechnology or genetic engineering. In short, snakes are incredibly successful, unique, and remarkable animals, well deserving of our respect and admiration.

Major corporate support is provided by Canon U.S.A., Inc. and Ford.

Learning Activities

Students will be able to:
  • Identify the four main categories of reptiles
  • Explain how snakes evolved over the centuries
  • Identify and explain the following characteristics of snakes:
    Poisonous versus Non-Poisonous
    Locomotion (slithering) of various snakes
  • Explain how snakes deliver their venom to their prey
  • Compare and contrast the various characteristics of snakes
  • Construct a model of a snake to demonstrate its locomotion
  • Use Digital Video, Computers, and Video Editing Software to create a student written, acted, directed, filmed, edited, and produced movie on a specific snake


Life Sciences
National Science Education Standards from the National Academy of Science for Grades 5 - 8

Content Standard C - Structure and Function in Living Systems:
Living systems at all levels of organization demonstrate the complementary nature of structure and function. Important levels of organization for structure and function include cells, organs, tissues, organ systems, whole organisms, and ecosystems

Content Standard C - Reproduction and Heredity: The characteristics of an organism can be described in terms of a combination of traits. Some traits are inherited and others result from interactions with the environment.

Content Standard C - Regulation and Behavior: An organism's behavior evolves through adaptation to its environment. How a species moves, obtains food, reproduces, and responds to danger is based in the species' evolutionary history.

Content Standard C - Populations and Ecosystems: A population consists of all individuals of a species that occur together at a given place and time. All populations living together and the physical factors with which they interact compose an ecosystem.

Content Standard C - Diversity and Adaptations of Organisms: Biological evolution accounts for the diversity of species developed through gradual processes over many generations. Species acquire many of their unique characteristics through biological adaptation, which involves the selection of naturally occurring variations in populations. Biological adaptations include changes in structures, behaviors, or physiology that enhance survival and reproductive success in a particular environment.

National Technology Education Standards for Students from the International Society of Technology Education (ISTE) for Grades 6-8

Standard # 2 Social, Ethical, and Human Issues: Students practice responsible use of technology systems, information, and software. Students develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity.

Standard # 4: Technology as a Communications Tool: Students use telecommunications to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences. Students use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences.

Standard # 5 Technology as a Research Tool: Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources. Students use technology tools to process data and report results. Students evaluate and select new information resources and technological innovations based on the appropriateness for specific tasks.

Media Components


NATURE: Snakes -- Deadly Companions

Web sites:

Easy Snake Quiz
This site offers students an opportunity to test their prior knowledge about snakes. The site consists of ten questions varying in nature about snakes. After the participants take the test, the site scores their responses and allows them to see both the their correct and incorrect responses. Each question is also given a brief explanation in regards to the answer. The site makes for a nice pre-test/post test scenario if desired.

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary
This online dictionary will allow students to quickly and easily locate the correct definition for key terms. All definitions come from a credible source with additional links if necessary.

Yahooligans Reptiles
This site contains an interactive index of various reptiles. It is organized in a manner that makes it easy for students of all ages and abilities to easily locate the specific reptile they are looking for while also accessing reliable information that may be used in an educational setting.

Snakes Alive
This Web-based slide show allows students to gain easy-to-understand information about the life cycle of a snake with graphics that aid in explanation.

Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation
The University of Massachusetts Natural Resource and Environmental Conservation Program provides education programs and materials that enable people to make informed decisions and take actions to preserve or enhance the quality, productivity and sustainability of natural resources and natural systems.

King Cobra
This site contains lessons and information about cobras from National Geographic. The site has additional information as it relates to snakes. A great ancillary site if needed for additional snakes as it relates to the culminating activity.

Eduscapes: Specific Snakes
This index has links to a few hundred Web sites that contain information and photos of specific kinds of snakes.

Animal Allsorts-The Reptile House
This site has a great pictorial diagram of a snake's anatomy. The diagram shows the snake in both a skeletal and organ format.

The Anatomy Section
This site contains simple yet effective descriptions of a snake's anatomy.

Reviled and Revered Toads, Turtles, Snakes
This is an online update of the 1992 edition of Art to Zoo, better known today as Smithsonian in the Classroom, published by the Smithsonian Office of Education, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

Anatomy of a Snake
Another Web site containing a pictorial description of a snake's anatomy.

Schoolhouse Video
Schoolhouse Video is a collaborative project between Janet English and Hall Davidson, Director of Educational Services, KOCE-TV. The project has three main objectives:

  1. To empower K-12 students to use cutting edge technology to create broadcast quality videos.
  2. Allow K-12 students, teachers, parents, and administrators a forum to share stories about their schools.
  3. To provide videos for television broadcast so the community can share in many of the good programs schools have to offer.
This site is great for students and teacher who need resources for creating student-generated video that follow the standards used in television production today. Items such as a release form and storyboards can be found at this site.