Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
SAF Archives  search ask the scientists in the classroom cool science

Guide Index

Spin, Spin, Spin

Song and Dance

Spider Canyon

Amazon Tales

Arachnophobia

Viewer Challenge
in the classroom
TEACHING GUIDES


Spiders!:
Spider Canyon


Arachnologist Susan Riechert has been studying spiders in her large-scale natural lab in Arizona for many years. Recently, she began to observe that the union of aggressive male spiders from the desert with timid spiders from the river is producing a super-aggressive hybrid spider with very low survival rates. Riechert suspects she may be witnessing evolution as it happens.

Curriculum Links
National Science Education Standards
Related Frontiers Activity
Activity: Spider Trading Cards




CURRICULUM LINKS


BIOLOGY/
LIFE SCIENCE


adaptations, arachnids, diversity, invertebrates

EARTH
SCIENCE


biomes

ENVIRONMENTAL
SCIENCE


habitats

GENETICS


 




NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS

SCIENCE AS INQUIRY / LIFE SCIENCE
5-8: Structure and Function in Living Systems, Reproduction and Heredity, Regulation and Behavior, Populations and Ecosystems, Diversity and Adaptations of Organisms
9-12: Molecular Basis of Heredity, Biological Evolution, Behavior of Organisms
SCIENCE IN PERSONAL AND SOCIAL PERSPECTIVES
5-8: Populations, Resources and Environments
9-12: Population Growth, Natural Resources
HISTORY AND NATURE OF SCIENCE
5-8: Science as a Human Endeavor, Nature of Science
9-12: Science as a Human Endeavor, Nature of Scientific Knowledge




RELATED FRONTIERS ACTIVITY



ACTIVITY: SPIDER TRADING CARDS

Funnel-web spiders have evolved many unique adaptations that enable them to survive. From behavioral changes like hiding in webs to escape the heat of the day, to physical modifications like those needed to spin funnel-shaped webs, adaptations are critical to a species' success.

In this activity, you'll make a set of spider trading cards that will include information about a spider's behavior, habitat and adaptations. Making these cards is a good way for you to apply your research and observation skills. If you wish, make the cards in the form of a book. Or, if you have the capacity, scan the cards and include them on your school's website (see Step 3). The same technique can be applied to the study of any animal species.


MATERIALS
  • pencils or other drawing instruments
  • blank index cards or other card stock
PROCEDURE

  1. OBSERVATIONS
    Choose an organism to research or observe. Spiders are the obvious choice, but if you wish, select another animal. (If you cannot observe animals outdoors because of weather or locale, choose a dog, cat, hamster or other pet to observe.) Take notes about your subject's appearance and activities. Do you observe any behavior that could be considered an adaptation to the animal's environment? For example, if you observe a spider weaving a web, how does the web help the spider survive in its habitat?




  2. MAKE A TRADING CARD
    On one side of an index card, list information about the animal's vital stats, including its common and scientific names, size, habitat, predators, feeding habits and any interesting behavior or adaptations. (Use the Internet or other resources to supplement the information you learned by observing, if needed.) Place a drawing or photograph on the other side of the card, and laminate your card if you wish. To find more information about spiders online, visit: www.york.biosis.org/zrdocs/zoolinfo/grp_arac.htm.


  3. SPIDERS ON THE WEB
    Scan your cards into a computer and use them to create a page on your school's website that displays your research.


  4. FRONTIERS CARDS
    Make a set of trading cards that includes the spiders seen in this episode. Alternatively, create trading cards for other episodes of Frontiers (Animal Einsteins, Show 903, for example) and archive with the videotape library.







 

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