Lesson 4 - How animals have adapted to life on Bruny Island

This lesson is intended for students to learn about:

1. How biodiversity is linked to variety in habitat.

2. How animals have physically adapted to surviving the cooler climates of Bruny Island.

3. How to conduct a fair test (in a controlled experiment).

 Note: this lesson will take place over a series of days.


You will need the file of the flipchart of different animals for the IWB, pages 13-18 of the work booklet found here, 16 x 500mL plastic beakers filled with 250mL of water, 8 x sheets of black paper, 8 x sheets of white paper, 32 x thermometers.


Show some photos on the IWB of animals and circle/highlight body parts then ask volunteers to say how they think that body part makes the animal suited to where it lives. E.g. camel’s eyelashes – lives in desert – eyelashes shield eyes from dust/sand. Then focus on the adaptations of animals living in cold climates. What body features do these animals have in common? Mammals such as seals, whales and polar bears have blubber and thicker skin.

Again on the IWB, show the graph of the Average temperature per month of Bruny Island. It can be found at this website: http://www.yr.no/place/australia/Tasmania/Bruny_Island/statistics.html

Students complete pages 13 and 14 of the booklet. 

Ask the students questions to help them interpret the graph, such as ‘How cold does it get in Winter? What is the highest temperature Bruny Island might feel? If the ambient temperature is quite cold, then how cold must the ocean be where sea animals live?' This discussion should help connect students’ understanding of the link between adaptations and the environment that animal species live in.

Using the worksheet ‘Cold climate adaptations’ on pages 15 and 16 of the booklet, ask a volunteer to read the passage. Students will examine the images of two of the same species of animal and will decide which animal lives in Sydney and which lives on Bruny Island based on the physical adaptations that the animal has.

(For the following section of the lesson, you may need to start this on a different day if there isn't enough time to fit it all in the one lesson)

Ask the students why they think penguins have the adaptation of black feathers if it doesn't camouflage them in white snow (hopefully a child says that it's to absorb heat from the sun to keep the penguin warm in a cold climate). Ask the students how they could scientifically test the theory that black absorbs more heat than white. Create the method of a fair test as a class, then students can fill out the experiment report on page 17  & 18 of the booklet (we've done fair tests when designing controlled experiments before so students should know how to set up and write up the experiment). Students should write their Results in a table. Give a time limit for measuring and recording results (15 mins).

(Note for teacher: One way experiment could be conducted is by wrapping black paper around and on top of a beaker of water and placed in the sun next to an identical beaker wrapped with white paper. Poke a hole in the top of each beaker paper to place a thermometer inside the water. Measure with a thermometer and record in a table the temperature of each beaker every minute/2 minutes for 15 mins.)

Once students have written up theri experiment report (except for the Results and Conclusion), arrange them in groups of three and allow them to conduct the experiment.

Once all the groups have finished taking their measurements and recording results, discuss the conclusion. A conclusion needs to briefly answer the Aim of the experiment (i.e. answering the experiment question).