Bear Nomad: Education Worksheet

Video highlights from Bear Nomad

Upper Primary & Junior Secondary


SCHOOL LEVEL   Upper Primary and Junior Secondary


Join ecologist and bear conservationist, Chris Morgan on a compelling 5000km journey through ‘the last frontier’ from Alaska’s south to north. He begins his story on an isolated stretch of the Alaskan Peninsula and finishes at the edge of the Arctic Ocean. It encompasses the habitats of three different bear species and five ecosystems. Travelling mostly by motorbike and living in a tent during this grand wilderness adventure, Chris devotes a year to studying bears in their own environment. We all have our own impression of bears, formed from an early age – either as cuddly teddies, or terrifying carnivores. Sadly, of the world’s eight bear species, six now face extinction. Chris’s goal is to peel back the layers of misunderstanding about this complex creature to help us better understand their personalities.  


Whilst Bear Nomad is essentially an intimate, intriguing biological and ecological portrait of North America’s three bear species – black, brown and polar – and their habitats, it also incorporates elements of climate change and human impact on nature. The three-part series centres on its enthusiastic driving force and narrator, Chris Morgan. His irrepressible curiosity about bears draws him to spend a year exploring their Alaskan environment from south to north, and sees him up close and personal with his imposing furry friends.

In the first of the three episodes, Chris’s odyssey begins in June on the Alaska Peninsula, in an area almost untouched by humans. Here grizzlies spend the long, summer days feeding, mating and raising cubs. Close encounters with the bears include males fighting for mating rights and a grizzly mother tenderly caring for her young.

The second episode takes us to the sprawling metropolis of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. The confluence of coastal city and state park brings wildlife into people’s backyards, where bears rummage through rubbish bins and prowl around barbeques. How to deal with the bears posing some interesting practical and philosophical questions. In contrast, Chris visits wild, magnificent Denali National Park, where grizzlies share habitat with foxes, wolves and moose. The episode concludes at Prudhoe Bay, an Arctic area that, due to the oil industry, has experienced dramatic change.

The final episode starts in November in Kaktovik, a tiny north Alaska town. Polar bears survive on their fat reserves as they wait for sea ice to form so they can hunt for seals. Chris teams up with Eskimo hunters in Alaska’s northern most city, Barrow, where locals and bears share climate change challenges. In late spring, Chris follows the great caribou migration to the North Slope of the Brooks Range – and finds feasting grizzlies.

The oil and gas resources we so prize are embedded in Alaska’s wilderness, in the same land that sustains so much life. Just like the great plains of Africa, Alaska is the last stronghold of some of our planet’s wildest creatures. In telling the story of America’s bears, Bear Nomad presents one of the most important scientific and philosophical dilemmas of our time.


Upper Primary Curriculum

Science is a dynamic, collaborative and creative human endeavour arising from our curiosity and interest in making sense of our world through exploring the unknown, investigating universal mysteries, making predictions and solving problems.
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. The science curriculum addresses the diverse needs of Australian students by providing them with scientific knowledge, understandings and skills to make informed and responsible personal, social, technological and environmental decisions that impact at the local, national and global levels and to participate, if they so wish, in science-rich careers.
Australian Earth and Environmental Science Curriculum 2010: Rationale


Junior Secondary

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

Senior Secondary

In undertaking these tasks, students of Earth and Environmental Science will:

•    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
•    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
•    Develop an understanding of historical and cultural aspects of science as well as contemporary science issues and activities and an understanding of the diversity of careers related to science.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Aims


Upper Primary

Episode 1

Task 1
Download a map of Alaska from
Save the map to your files, or print it and paste it into your workbook. You will need to use this map for the first task of each episode.
Go back to the website and use the zoom toggle so you can find the Alaska Peninsula and highlight it on your downloaded map. Beside this place, write the name of the type of bear Chris Morgan finds there and four different kinds of food this bear eats.

Task 2
Write down five different types of bear behaviour Chris observes while he visits the Alaska Peninsula. Add a sentence to each of these to explain why the bears are behaving this way.

Task 3
In 50 words, write a description of the bears’ habitat on the Alaska Peninsula.

Episode 2

Task 1
On your downloaded map of Alaska, highlight the following  places:
•    Anchorage
•    Denali National Park
•    Prudhoe Bay
•    Dalton Highway/Trans Alaska Pipeline
Next to Anchorage, Denali Park and Prudhoe Bay write down the names of the types of bear that live there.

Task 2
List three advantages and three disadvantages for bears that live in and around Anchorage. Write down two solutions to some of the problems these bears face.

Task 3
The same kind of bear lives on the coast and inland, in Denali National Park. Make a list to compare the habitat and diet of these two bears, and include two other types of animal that live in each of these places. If you were a bear, where would you prefer to live? Explain why in your answer.

Episode 3

Task 1
On your downloaded map of Alaska, highlight the following  places:

•    Beaufort Sea
•    Barter Island
•    Brooks Range

Next to these places, write down the names of the types of bear that live there.

Task 2
What are four big differences between polar bears and the other types of bear Chris meets on his journey? In your answer, choose one physical, one diet-related, one behavioural and one environmental difference.

Task 3
What are three pieces of advice you would give someone who was planning to visit polar bear habitat in the Alaskan Arctic, and why?


Junior Secondary

Episode 1

Task 1
Chris Morgan describes the Alaska Peninsula as “paradise” for brown bears. In 50 words explain why this is so, including aspects of landscape, diet and behaviour in your answer.

Task 2
Draw a timeline to represent a year in the life of an Alaska Peninsula brown bear. Create intervals that show the annual seasons. Under each season, list the bears’ activities, behaviours and feeding habits.

Task 3
On the Alaska Peninsula, brown bear cubs stay with the their mothers for three years. Write a list of five things the cubs must learn in order to survive on their own, and explain how they learn each of these things.

Episode 2

Task 1
Black bears often come into contact with people in Anchorage, and this can sometimes cause problems.
•    What time of year does this occur?
•    Why does it occur?
•    What are three pieces of advice people are given in order to address the problem?

Task 2
Compare and contrast the coastal brown bears with the brown bears that inhabit Denali National Park. Make a list that includes at least two examples each of physical characteristics, habitat, diet and behaviour.

Task 3
Do some Internet research to find out about the Trans Alaska Pipeline. Include the following in your answer:

•    Where does it start and where does it finish?
•    How long is it?
•    When was it built?
•    Why was it built?
•    How much did it cost to build?
•    What are five different animals that can be found along the pipeline?
•    What are two risks the pipeline poses to these animals?

Episode 3

Task 1
List eight differences between polar bears and the other bears found in North America. Make sure you include at least one example each of physical characteristics, habitat, diet and behaviour.

Task 2
Draw food chains for the Arctic and subarctic regions of Alaska that includes the following species:

Polar bear                         Ursus maritimus
Ring seal                          Pusa hispida
Arctic fox                        Vulpes lagopus
Caribou                            Rangifer tarandus
Grey wolf                       Canis lupus
Bowhead whale            Balaena mysticetus
Chum salmon                Oncorhynchus keta

Highlight any overlapping areas.

Task 3
Write 100 words to describe why ice is important to polar bears. Add 2-3 sentence to explain what might happen to polar bears in the future if climate change melts all the Arctic ice.

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