The Living Edens Madagascar-A World Apart Classroom Resources

Title: Wings and Other Things

Subject: Math, Science

Grade: 3-6

Estimated Time of Completion:

While completing these activities, various student groups may be engaged in different activities at different times. For example, one group may be collecting data from the video while other groups are analyzing this data, performing measurements of their peersí arm span or height, or entering data into a computer spreadsheet.

Depending upon the classroom management strategies employed and the availability of materials and equipment, these activities may be completed in 50 to 70 minutes.


After watching the segment of the video that notes the Madagascar Fish Eagle's wing span (over 6 feet), students learn more about their own body dimensions.


I. Instructional Objectives
II. Standards
III. Tools Needed
IV. Procedures and Activities
V. Assessment
VI. Extensions and Adaptations

I. Instructional Objectives

  • The student will collect real data through measurement.
  • The student will use proportional relationships to make linear measurement estimations.
  • The student will compare the physical attributes of students and eagles.
  • The student will enter data into a spreadsheet.


II. Related National Standards

This lesson correlates to the following math and technolgoy standards established by the Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory (McREL) at

  • Understands the relative magnitude of whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and mixed numbers
  • Selects and uses appropriate tools for given measurement situations (e.g., rulers for length, measuring cups for capacity, protractors for angle)
  • Knows approximate size of basic standard units (e.g., centimeters, feet, grams) and relationships between them (e.g., between inches and feet)
  • Understands that measurement is not exact (i.e., measurements may give slightly different numbers when measured multiple times)
  • Uses specific strategies to estimate quantities and measurements (e.g., estimating the whole by estimating the parts)
  • Selects and uses appropriate units of measurement, according to type and size of unit
  • Understands that data represent specific pieces of information about real-world objects or activities
  • Understands that data come in many different forms and that collecting, organizing, and displaying data can be done in many ways
  • Knows the common features and uses of data bases (e.g., data bases contain records of similar data, which is sorted or organized for ease of use; data bases are used in both print form, such as telephone books, and electronic form, such as computerized card catalogs)
  • Uses data base software to add, edit, and delete records, and to find information through simple sort or search techniques

III. Tools Needed

  • Acetate graph paper (this can be made by copying a sheet of graph paper on to a photocopy grade acetate sheet) for each student group
  • Graph paper is not required but is recommended as it reinforces data and the use of multiple tools for measurement
  • Dry erase markers
  • Rulers (English or metric)
  • Yard or meter Stick
  • Data recording materials (pencils, pens, chart/paper, clipboards, index cards, etc.)
  • Computer, presentation system and spreadsheet software.

IV. Procedures and Activities

Using the visual data available in the video, estimate the length of the eagle's body.

An acetate sheet will stick to a television screen due to the static electricity. Demonstrate placing the acetate sheet on the television screen and recording data (with the VCR on pause) by drawing a line to mark the length of wing span and an intersecting line to approximate length. Knowing that the wing span is six feet will allow students to use this data to estimate the other distances marked (as the length of the Madagascar Fish Eagle's body).

Ask students to estimate the ratio of length to wing span (i.e., is the length 1/2 as long? 1/3 as long?) Then ask them to use that ratio to try and figure out the length measurement.

Next, students may measure the "wing span" (arm span) of a partner. Measure the "length" (height) of a partner. Record this data carefully. A class data recording template, a blank print out of the spreadsheet, may be helpful to the students while also reinforcing familiarity with technology and basic vocabulary (row, column, cell, etc.).

Discuss the following with the students:

Review the data entered in to the class spreadsheet.

Explain how you arrived at your estimate of the eagle's body length. How much variation was there in these estimates throughout the class? Can we consider these estimates to be accurate? How would you validate your estimate?

How does the relationship of the eagle's wing span to its body length compare to the relation ship of your arm span to your height? Do you think these relationships hold for all animals? Give examples.

V. Assessment Recommendations

This activity can be used to assess the various aspects of data collection (organization, accuracy, standardization of units, etc.).

Student participation in the data collection (eagle and student) is measurable, as is student participation in the classroom discussions.

VI. Extensions/Adaptations

Students could use the spreadsheet data to answer questions such as:

Which student has the greatest arm span? Is this also the tallest student?

The data could be sorted in the spreadsheet or visually reviewed.

What is the average student height? What is the average student arm span?

Statistical extensions such as mode and median height measures can be made. In addition, more discussion of variation of data (estimates of eagle's length) could take place.

Data collection strategies can be emphasized. Student pairs could create data sheets before attempting to collect each other's height and arm span data.

Some student pairs could use standard English measuring tools (foot ruler and yard stick) while others use standard metric measuring tools (centimeter rule and meter stick). As class results are shared, a discussion about units of measure would surely unravel!

The relationship between length and wingspan could be compared to other eagles in different habitats. Some discussion could take place about why certain species of eagle have larger wing spans than others.

The same exercise (using one body measurement to estimate another and figure out a ratio) could become an independent practice activity using other animals pictured on The Living Edens: Madagascar Web site.


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