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Monday Morning Ready03.29.2019
Jumpstart Your Week!

Let’s just get this out of the way: Frogs are cool, they jump and they thrive in water and on land. And their tongues are capable of sticking to bugs like glue—even ones heavier than they are. And now, at last, the mysteries behind those incredible tongues are being revealed. ... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

If it was your job to study frogs, what part would you want to learn more about? Why?

Grade 5-6

According to the article, researchers think the future could very well contain Post-its or envelopes with frog-inspired glues. What other products do you think could be improved with frog-inspired glues?

Grade 7-8

Do you think it's important for researchers to study things like frog spit? Why or why not?

Grade 9-10

Do you think it's better for people to unravel all of nature's mysteries, such as how frog spit works, or for some wonder to be left in the world? Why?

LESSON PLAN
Create an Invention Based on an Animal

PROCESS:

  1. Remind students that in the article they just read, researchers studied frog spit and tongues to learn how these parts help frogs catch bugs. They hope to use what they learn to create new inventions or improve things people already use.
  2. Point out that this is not unique. Researchers have used what they've learned about animal parts and behaviors to create everything from high-speed bullet trains - shaped after a bird's beak - to energy efficient office buildings - styled after African termite mounds.
  3. Instruct students to select an animal and make a list of its notable parts and behaviors. Have them pick one part or behavior from their list and conduct research to learn more about it. Encourage them to get into as much detail as they can.
  4. Have students brainstorm ideas about how they could use the characteristics of that part or behavior to create a new invention or improve something that already exists. Give students time to create a detailed sketch or diagram of a product they could make.

ASSESSMENT:

Invite students to share their diagrams with the class. Challenge them to explain how they incorporated the characteristics of a specific animal part or behavior into their new product.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
As a class, select one animal to study. Make a list of that animal's parts and behaviors. Conduct research to learn more. Then have students brainstorm ideas about how specific parts or behaviors could be used to create or improve a product. Encourage students to pick what they think is the best idea from the list. Give each student a piece of plain white paper and access to drawing supplies. Encourage each student to draw a picture of his or her vision.
Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct group members to select one animal and make a list of its unique parts and behaviors. Have them pick one item from the list and conduct research to learn more about it. Encourage groups to brainstorm ideas about how the trait they chose could be used to create or improve a product. Give them time to create a detailed sketch of their product.
Grades 7-8:
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct partners to select one animal and make a list of its unique parts and behaviors. Have them pick one item from the list and conduct research to learn more about it. Encourage partners to brainstorm ideas about how the trait they chose could be used to create or improve a product. Give them time to create a detailed sketch. Challenge them to write a brief summary analyzing the relationship between their product and the animal it is based upon.
Grades 9-10:
Have students complete the activity with a partner. Instruct pairs to select one animal, identify one of its traits or behaviors, and conduct research to learn as many details about that trait or behavior as possible. Give them time to brainstorm ideas and select a trait or behavior that could be used to create or improve a product. Challenge partners to create a patent-worthy diagram of their product and to write a scientific summary explaining how their product is based on the traits of an animal part or behavior.
SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
14 Fun Facts About Frogs
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to discover 14 of the most amazing, surprising, disgusting and flat-out weird facts about frogs.

This Titicaca Water Frog Breathes Oxygen Through its Skin
Invite students to watch this Smithsonian Channel video to learn about the Titicaca water frog, a unique inhabitant of the high-altitude, South American lake. Measuring 18 inches long, and with folds of baggy skin, the frog’s entire body is built to extract as much oxygen as possible from the water.

The Silence of the Frogs
In the mid-1990s, investigators identified a mysterious and seemingly unstoppable killer. Its name? Chytrid. Its prey? Frogs. Since then, the disease has ravaged frog populations worldwide, and despite decades of research there’s still no cure. So, like modern-day Noahs, a group of Smithsonian researchers have resorted to a time-honored plan: building an ark…for amphibians. Invite students to listen to this Smithsonian Sidedoor podcast to learn what Smithsonian researchers are doing in the Panamanian jungle to help some endangered frogs avoid extinction.

Crazy Monster: Tree Frog Effortlessly Skydives Away from Hungry Snake
Invite students to watch this Smithsonian Channel video to learn how the gliding tree frog uses its webbing as a parachute. It’s a great escape mechanism, especially when being pursued by a deadly boa!

Survival of the Fittest: Design in Nature and Biomimicry
In this Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum lesson, students learn about the Flex Foot Cheetah, a prosthetic leg designed specifically for athletes. They will analyze the relationship between the object and the animal that inspired it, and they will consider the needs of the user as a factor in design. Ultimately, students will brainstorm and prototype their own tool to help them survive within their own environment or everyday life.

Biomimicry, Housing Naturally: Habitat as Model
In this Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum lesson, students will consider the habitats of animals in their community and around the world. They will create eco-friendly designs and architectures based on the shape, material and overall design of an animal habitat for use in the built environment.

This Frog’s Slime Kills Flu Viruses
Scientists have discovered that the slimy skin of one frog found in the southern Indian province of Kerala, contains small molecules that can destroy strains of the flu virus—and could contain a whole new class of antiviral drugs for researchers to explore. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn more.
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