Have you ever wondered why the Bald Eagle’s beak has a sharp curve at the end of the top of the beak yet sparrows’ beaks are short and end in a conical shape? A macaw’s beak is short and curved on the top with a specialized tip for extracting the edible part of the seeds while the bottom part of the beak is flat and sharp to split hard fruits.
House Creek Elementary students being taught through virtual instruction with teacher Michelle Hoffchen created their own bird beaks in a science lab to teach them about animal adaptation and how bird beaks have adapted for many things such as eating, defense, feeding young, gathering nesting materials, building nests, and more.
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills requires students to use models of bird beaks and see how well they can pick up various prey. In order to determine which beak is best for various types of foods, the students had to pretend to be birds with different types of beaks using common household items like chopsticks, spoons, tongs, and toothpicks. They then had to attempt to “eat” items that represented different food sources such as nuts, seeds, berries, and worms. The students then had to record which beak worked best for each type of food. Students also created graphs of their results.
Students found they had challenges and that some beaks, like tools, worked better with different types of food. Student Haleigh Diamond tried repeatedly to pick up different bird food sources of all sizes.
“I did it badly, but it was so fun,” Diamond said. “The hardest part was picking up all three types of food with the (chop)sticks.”
Student Dominic Williams said picking up the food with the items representing beaks was his favorite part of the science lab.
“The hardest part was separating the food one by one,” Williams said.
Copperas Cove ISD’s virtual lessons mirror what students attending class on-campus are learning.
“It is a great way for the students to actually explore this standard instead of just reading about it or watching videos on it,” Hoffchen said. “It was a nice variation from all the screen time they have been having during virtual learning.”