Animal Superpowers Education Worksheet

Video highlights from Animal Superpowers

Upper Primary and Junior Secondary

Animal Superpowers Education Worksheet

EPISODES IN THIS SERIES
Extreme Hunters, Extreme Killers, Extreme Survivors

EDUCATION SHEET EPISODE
Extreme Survivors

SCHOOL LEVEL
Upper Primary and Junior Secondary

EDUCATION DESCRIPTION: Extreme Survivors
In their daily battle for survival, octopus and electric eels face some of the world's deadliest killers – sharks and caiman respectively. Salamanders deal with all manner of predators, such as snakes, birds and fish. In order to adapt these animals have developed some incredible defence mechanisms engineered by nature to survive against all odds. Evolving over millions of years, these secrets of survival are slowly being understood by science. Presented by Star Trek legend, Patrick Stewart, this documentary follows biology specialists in Hawaii, Ecuador and Suriname as they investigate the facts behind some of our planet's most amazing animal traits: camouflage in octopus, high voltage strikes in electric eels and regeneration in salamanders.

TEACHER BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Most octopuses are nocturnal, however the day octopus is a diurnal creature that thrives in the clear waters of Hawaii's Coconut Island. As its habitat is patrolled by sharks and rays, necessity has forced the octopus to become the king of camouflage. In addition to using ink and a pungent smell to dull the senses of their predators, octopuses manipulate their skin through an incredible network of chromatophores, individually controlled by the brain. They can also raise the muscles of their skin up to 2.5cm to manipulate its texture.

Deep in the South American jungle, electric eels flourish in the tropical streams of some of the world's most pristine and remote rainforest. Feeding on small fish, the eels in turn are preyed on by caiman, a type of crocodile that grows to several metres in length.
Yet the strike of an electric eel is powerful enough to send their fearsome predators into cardiac arrest. Using a purpose-built trap, an electric eel is caught, examined on land, and its voltage recorded at an incredible 492 volts – enough to electrocute a human.   

But perhaps the ultimate survival power belongs to the salamander. This amphibian feeds by rapidly extending its sticky tongue and pulling its prey into its mouth. Sharing its wetland habitat with a prolific number of predators including snakes and birds, it has developed the ability to cheat death by regenerating arms, legs, and even parts of its eyes and brain.

Using ingenious tactics, the octopus, electric eel and salamander are able to outsmart some of the world's deadliest predators. And their secrets could yield far-reaching benefits for mankind.

CURRICULUM POINTERS
 

Upper Primary Curriculum
The science curriculum provides opportunities for students to experience the joy of scientific discovery and to nurture students’ natural curiosity about the world around them. These ideas resonate with the concept of scientific literacy, a term that is well established in the science education literature.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Rationale

Junior Secondary Curriculum
The science curriculum provides opportunities for students to develop understandings about science and its processes, the scope of its contributions to our culture and society, and its applications in our daily lives.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Rationale


CURRICULUM OUTCOMES
 

Upper Primary
In undertaking these tasks, students of Science will:
•    Develop an interest in science and a curiosity and willingness to explore, ask questions and speculate about the changing world in which they live
•    Develop an ability to communicate their scientific understandings and findings to a range of audiences, to justify their own ideas on the basis of evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims whilst respecting alternative viewpoints and beliefs.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Aims

Junior Secondary
In undertaking these tasks, students of Science will:
•    Develop an ability to investigate questions about the world using scientific inquiry methods, including questioning, planning and conducting experiments and investigations based on ethical principles, collecting and analyzing data, evaluating results, and drawing critical, evidence-based conclusions
•    Develop an ability to solve problems and make informed, evidence-based decisions about current and future applications of science while taking into account moral, ethical and social implications
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Aims


STUDENT LEARNING TASKS

Upper Primary

Task 1
Octopus, electric eels and salamanders live in very different habitats. Describe each of their habitats in one or two sentences.

Task 2
In many cases, predators and prey share the same habitat. Write down two predators and two prey for the octopus, electric eel and salamander.

Task 3
Octopus, electric eels and salamanders have very different methods of defending themselves from predators. Write a couple of sentences for each of them to describe these methods of defence.

Task 4
Draw a sketch of an octopus and an electric eel. Make sure you include their defence mechanisms in your sketch.  Now label the parts that are involved in making the defence systems work.

Task 5
In about 50 words, explain how salamanders use their tails to help them escape from predators.


Junior Secondary

Task 1
In about 20 words for each, describe the habitats of octopus, electric eels and salamanders.

Task 2
In a few sentences, explain the difference between chromatophores and spermatophores in octopus. Then write about 50 words to explain how and why octopus camouflage themselves.

Task 3
In bullet-point form, make a comparison between electric eels and caiman. Include the following:
•    scientific name
•    type of animal
•    average length
•    average weight
•    colour
•    range
•    habitat
•    distribution
•    life span
•    prey
Now add a couple of sentences to explain exactly how an electric eel can fend off an attacking caiman.

Task 4
Write 100 words to describe how salamanders fool their predators and how they use regeneration as part of their defence mechanism.

Task 5
Professor David Gardiner justifies using salamanders for experimental purposes because it's "for the greater good". In about 150 words, explain what he means by this, and whether or not you agree with his statement.

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