Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Search NOVA Teachers

Back to Teachers Home

Garden of Eden

Classroom Activity


Objective
To collect and analyze information in order to invent an organism with adaptations to fit a particular niche, and predict its impact on other populations.

Materials for each team
  • copy of "I Can Live Here" student handout (HTML)
  • drawing paper
  • lined paper to make charts
  • art supplies, such as colored pencils, and rulers
  • reference books, magazines, and Internet access for research
Procedure
  1. Organize students into groups and distribute a copy of the "I Can Live Here" student handout to each student.

  2. Discuss animal and plant adaptations to their environments. Have students first review the different organisms that were in the program and then do additional research to find out more about the kinds of organisms that live in the Seychelles.

  3. Once students have completed their research, have them consider the kind of organism they would like to introduce into the environment. Have them consider what niche they want to introduce their organism into, what occupies each niche already, and what their organism would need to survive in that niche.

  4. Have students develop answers to questions about their organisms based on characteristics of living things. Make sure students consider both structure and function when creating their plant or animal.

  5. Have students draw the organism and describe how each of its parts and behaviors help it to survive in the new habitat.

  6. Finally, have students predict the impact of this new resident on the other island communities.

Activity Answer

A habitat is a place where an organism lives. A habitat contains the basic necessities and correct combination of light, food, air, water, and temperature in a sufficient space. A mature forest is an example of a habitat. A niche is the role and position of an organism within its habitat. An organism's niche is determined by how it uses available resources to survive and how it interacts with other species. Because each organism in an established community has a distinctly different niche, any newly introduced organism cannot exist in a niche that is already occupied. The organisms will engage in competition, leaving only one to occupy the niche.

Information from the program and students' research will give students background information about the unique plants, animals, and habitats found on the granitic and coral islands of the Seychelles, as well as the particular niche occupied by each. With this information, students should be able to choose a niche for their invented organism. Familiarity with the different habitats will help them design their organism with features necessary to live in the chosen niche. Considerations to include in an animal design might include size, length of legs, ability to fly or swim, diet, body covering, and much more. A plant design might include the amount of sunlight the plant needs to live, size, time and method of pollination, and any physical traits used for defense or cooperation with other organisms. Students should describe features in terms of both form and function.

In analyzing the impact of the organism on the island's food web, students should again refer to the information they collected about the plants and animals that currently populate the different island types of the Seychelles. Special consideration should be given to both the place where the new organism will live and its diet. Together they may impact the lives of the other island residents. This analysis should include reasons for any conclusion that students reach.

Links and Books

Books

Henkel, Friedrich—Wilhelm, and Wolfgang Schmidt. Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagasar, the Mascarenes, the Seychelles, and the Comoros Islands. Crocodiles and Alligators. Melbourne, Florida: Krieger Publishing Co., 2000.
Presents descriptions and photographs of the island fauna. An encyclopedic and illustrated reference book with in—depth articles by leading crocodile researchers.

Settel, Joanne. Exploding Ants: Amazing Facts About How Animals Adapt. New York: Atheneum/Simon and Schuster, 1999.
Explores examples of wonderful adaptations that make it possible for a great variety of creatures to live and thrive on Earth as they find shelter, food, and safety in nature.

Waterlow, Julia. Islands (Habitats). Stamford, Connecticut: Thompson Learning, 1995.
Notes the ways in which isolation has spawned wondrous life forms and ecosystems.

Web Sites

NOVA Online—Garden of Eden
http://www.pbs.org/nova/eden/
Explores the unique island chain called the Seychelles, a thousand miles east of Kenya. The Seychelles harbor plants and animals as unique as a frog the size of a rice grain and a coconut seed weighing 40 pounds. Delves deeper into this laboratory of evolution through articles, activities, resource links, and more.

Seychelles
http://www.seychelles.uk.com/main.htm
Provides information about the Seychelles from the United Kingdom's Seychelles Tourist Office, including where the islands are located and facts about their natural history.

Standards

The "I Can Live Here" activity aligns with the following National Science Education Standards:

Grades 5-8

Life Science

Science Standard C:
Life Science

Structure and function in living systems

  • Living systems at all levels of organization demonstrate the complementary nature of structure and function. Important levels of organization for structure and function include cells, organs, tissues, organ systems, whole organisms, and ecosystems.

Populations and ecosystems

  • A population consists of all individuals of a species that occur together at a given place and time. All populations living together and the physical factors with which they interact compose an ecosystem.

  • The number of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources available and abiotic factors, such as quantity of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition. Given adequate biotic and abiotic resources and no disease or predators, populations (including humans) increase at rapid rates. Lack of resources and other factors, such as predation and climate, limit the growth of populations in specific niches in the ecosystem.

Grades 9-12

Life Science

Science Standard C:
Life Science

The interdependence of organisms

  • Organisms both cooperate and compete in ecosystems. The interrelationships and interdependencies of these organisms may generate ecosystems that are stable for hundreds or thousands of years.

  • Living organisms have the capacity to produce populations of infinite size, but environments and resources are finite. This fundamental tension has profound effects on the interactions between organisms.

Teacher's Guide
Garden of Eden
BUY THE VIDEO PROGRAM OVERVIEW VIEWING IDEAS CLASSROOM ACTIVITY IDEAS FROM TEACHERS RELATED NOVA RESOURCES INTERACTIVE FOR STUDENTS




Video is not required for this activity
   

Support provided by