Would you want to live in a town that was visited by hundreds of polar bear each year? Why or why not?
According to the article, polar bear tours have helped the town of Churchill, Manitoba survive. In what way, if any, do you think the bears have benefitted from this exposure?
According to the article, some 10,000 tourists go to Churchill, Manitoba each fall to see the polar bears. People are not a natural part of a polar bear's environment. How do you think the presence of so many people has affected the way these polar bears live?
Knowing that the polar bears' future is questionable, do you think many people who see polar bears in person will be inspired to find ways to help the bears survive? Or do you think most people will simply be happy to see the bears "before it's too late?" Why?
- Invite students to share what they know about polar bears. What are they like? Where do they live? What do they eat? How do they grow? Cover as many topics as possible.
- Remind students that many people-including polar bear and environmental experts-are concerned about the future of polar bears. They fear that polar bears will become extinct in the not-so-distant future. Discuss why.
- Inform the class that many people are working hard to keep this from happening. And one key part of their mission is education. But educating millions of people and completing the research necessary to learn more about the problem takes money.
- Instruct students to create a product that will raise funds to save polar bears.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
Visit this site to explore episodes of the Smithsonian Channel’s series “Polar Bear Town.” The site features short videos, biographies and a map of Churchill, Manitoba. It also includes a playlist of related videos that can teach you everything you need to know about bears.
Invite students to view this webinar in which audience members and a panel of experts from the National Zoo discuss climate change, wildlife and what young people are doing to make a difference. The discussion, presented by the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, zeroes in on the specific impact of global warming on Arctic polar bears.
Use this lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum to have students create a conservation advertisement aimed at saving an endangered species.
Use the lessons in this National Museum of Natural History site to help students examine changes in the Arctic’s climate—which have been observed by both polar scientists and polar residents—and explore how those changes impact the Arctic’s wildlife and its peoples.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a polar bear? Watch the video in this Smithsonian article to find out.
Read this article from the National Museum of Natural History to learn about the impact rapid climate change is having on polar bears in the Arctic.
Tourists flock to a coastal Alaskan town to photograph the vulnerable icons. Read this Smithsonian article to learn why that is raising some hairy ethical questions.