(Click here for a printer-friendly version of this lesson. Note that the handout “Extinction Stimulation” is not attached to this document. Please download it separately. )
GRADE LEVEL: 5-8
TIME ALLOTMENT: Two 45-minute class periods
The loneliest animals are the last of their kind on the planet. Scientists warn that up to 100 species a day are being pushed toward extinction. Sadly, many of these creatures are endangered because of human actions. Nature: The Loneliest Animals profiles a variety of captive breeding programs, designed to bolster these dwindling animal populations.
Using segments from this program and other Web resources, students will discuss different ways that animal species become extinct, and analyze how human actions can positively and negatively influence a species’ population. Students will also discuss the benefits and challenges of helping an endangered species through captive breeding, and will prepare “news segments” for the class to present research on endangered species.
Students will be able to:
- Compare and discuss different causes of extinction;
- Name several currently highly endangered species, and describe how people are trying to bring them back from the brink of extinction;
- Research an endangered species, and present information from online, print, and broadcast resources in an oral report.
NATURE, The Loneliest Animals, selected segments
Clip 1: Yangtze giant soft shell turtle
Clip 2: Sumatran rhinoceros
Clip 3: Lemurs
Clip 4: Black-Footed Ferret
Clip 5: Imperiled Lives
Yangtze Giant Soft-shell Turtle (China)
Asian Turtle Conservation Network: Rafetus Swinhoei
Fact page on the endangered soft-shell turtle
Article about the Chinese breeding effort for Rafetus Swinhoei
Sumatran Rhinoceros (Sumatra, Indonesia)
International Rhino Foundation:
[NOTE: page features graphic photo of two rhinos mating.]
Information about Sumatran Rhinos from the Indonesian sanctuary
General information about the endangered Sumatran Rhino
Latest news in Rhino research
Lemurs (Madagascar); including Golden-Crowned Sifaka
Information on the many species of lemur at the Duke University Center, including the endangered Golden-Crowned Sifaka
Black-Footed Ferret (United States)
Black-footed ferret conservation information
National Science Education Standards
LIFE SCIENCE: Content Standard C
As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of
- Diversity and adaptations of organisms
- Biological evolution accounts for the diversity of species developed through gradual processes over many generations. Species acquire many of their unique characteristics through biological adaptation, which involves the selection of naturally occurring variations in populations. Biological adaptations include changes in structures, behaviors, or physiology that enhance survival and reproductive success in a particular environment.
o Extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient to allow its survival. Fossils indicate that many organisms that lived long ago are extinct. Extinction of species is common; most of the species that have lived on the earth no longer exist.
SCIENCE IN PERSONAL AND SOCIAL PERSPECTIVES: Content Standard F
As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of
- Populations, Resources, and Environments
- When an area becomes overpopulated, the environment will become degraded due to the increased use of resources.
- Causes of environmental degradation and resource depletion vary from region to region and from country to country.
For the class:
- One computer with Internet access and audiovisual projection system, for screening video segments
- “Last of their Kind” Answer Key (PDF) (RTF)
- [Optional - toothpicks, stopwatch, and flour, for the Extinction Simulation extension activity - see the "Loneliest Animals Extinction Simulation" (PDF)
For each group of 2-3 students:
- Computer with Internet access
For each student:
- “Causes of Extinction” Student Organizer (PDF)(RTF)
- “Last of their Kind?” Student Organizer (PDF) (RTF)
- “Explore a Species” Student Organizer (PDF) (RTF)
PREP FOR TEACHERS
Preview all of the video segments and Web sites used in the lesson.
Download the video clips used in the lesson to your classroom computer, or prepare to watch them using your classroom’s Internet connection.
Bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Using a social bookmarking tool such as del.icio.us or diigo (or an online bookmarking utility such as portaportal) will allow you to organize all the links in a central location.
Make copies of student organizers listed in the “Materials” section.
Proceed to ACTIVITIES