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"GOING TO EXTREMES" Guide & Resources

Join FRONTIERS on a journey to various places on Earth to see how animals and humans adapt to extreme environments. Some of the adaptations may seem extreme in themselves: frogs that freeze and thaw, sea creatures living in regions of very low oxygen and light, spiders whose behavior may indicate an evolutionary adaptation in the making and more, including the human body's response to high altitudes.

Here are the topics and running times of stories on this show and a brief description of related activities you'll find in this online teaching guide:

  • Big Picture

  • Spider Canyon (running time: 12:09) -- Long-term observations of funnel web spiders in a natural laboratory suggest a surprising theory about hybridization. Activity: Trade observations of animal adaptations.

  • Frozen Alive (running time: 10:49) -- Wood frogs that freeze and winter flounder that don't are the subjects of fascinating research activities. Activities: Chill out with organic antifreeze and frozen yeast.

  • Ultimate Speed (running time: 10:54) -- Science explores the physiology and biomechanics of the two fastest runners in the animal kingdom. Activities: Measure your VO2 max; Videotape biomechanics of running.

  • Hidden Depths (running time: 9:04) -- Underwater explorations of the ocean's middle depths turn up some bizarre species never seen before. Activity: Design and build a mini-ecosystem.

  • High Anxiety (running time: 10:00) -- FRONTIERS climbs to 15,000 feet to see if a test can predict who will succumb to mountain sickness. Activity: Learn about the physiology of mountain sickness.

  • Viewer Challenge -- After you watch "Going to Extremes," test your viewing skills with ten questions about the show!


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.