SNIPPET LESSON PLAN FOR:
Ice Worlds: the Arctic, the Antarctic
and their Wildlife Using "Planet Earth"
Subject: Science/Earth Science and Biology
Length: Snippet: 40 minutes, 40 seconds; Lesson: One 45 to 55 minute class period.
Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Students will be introduced to the Antarctic, the Arctic and some of the amazing animals who inhabit these worlds of ice and water.
Rationale: The Arctic and the Antarctic are important geographic areas with abundand and interesting wildlife. Few people will experience these areas directly.
Description of the Snippet: This is a portion of the "Planet Earth" chapter entitled "Ice Worlds" The snippet shows Antarctica and the Arctic, hump back whales, emperor penguins, ducks, arctic wolves, polar bears, sea birds, arctic fox, sea lions and more.
Using the Snippet in Class:
Prepare for class by deciding which of the supplemental materials to present to the class. Cue the DVD to the beginning of the snippet. After playing the snippet, present the supplemental materials.
Supplemental Materials on Polar Bears:
Polar bears are the worlds largest land carnivore along with the Kodiak bear and is in the same species as the brown bear and the grizzly bear. (Polar bears, brown bears and grizzlies can mate and have fertile, viable offspring.) However it has adapted to living in a cold icy setting. Their paws are larger than any other bears, to distribute their weight when walking on snow or thin ice and assist when swimming. Polar bears require sea ice for breeding, hunting and sometimes as locations for their dens. The scientific name for polar bears, "Ursus Martimus", actually means "maritime bear." While born on land, they spend most of their time at sea, constantly on the sea ice. It is the only place from which they can hunt their favorite prey, seals. They are truly at home in the water. Their feet are webbed and they clan close their nostrils while in the water. Polar bears are excellent swimmers and have been seen up to 200 miles away from land.
Usually adult polar bears lives solitary lives. However, they have frequently been seen playing together for hours at a time, or sleeping while embracing. Polar bear scientist Nikita Ovsianikov describes adult males as having "well-developed friendships." They are not territorial and only fight during the mating season. At other times, the will play together and have mock fights.
Polar Bears live throughout the circumpolar arctic. Their tracks have been seen as far as the North Pole; however few bears regularly traverse areas north of 82-north latitude.
Scientists believe that there are about 20,000 to 25,000 still living today. Predictions are that, if the Earth continues its warming trends in the Arctic, around two-thirds of the world's polar bears could disappear by 2050. In a recent meeting of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Polar Bear Specialist Group, the world's best polar bear scientists, forecast that out of the 19 polar bear subpopulations, at least eight were declining. At a 2005 meeting, the polar bear was reclassified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.
In 2008 the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that it was listing the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species act. Hunting, poaching, pollution and industrial disturbances are taking a toll on the bears' population, yet the biggest threat is is malnutrition and starvation due to habitat loss. As the Earth warms, the sea ice shrinks.
Location of the Snippet: The snippet begins about 7:25 minutes into the Planet Earth section on "Ice Worlds" when . . . . It ends at minute 48; the end of the episode. Minute and second calculations may differ from what is set out below. Check your disc for exact locations before using the film in class.
Possible Problems for this Snippet: None.
Why not show the whole movie? The only reasons not to show students the entire movie are time constraints and the fact that young minds might not have the attention span for the entire film. Some teachers play the movie in short segments over several weeks.
Reminder: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing this snippet.
Students can research the effects of global warming on polar bears or other arctic and antarctic species.
Sources and Links to the Internet:
Polar Bears International -- This link also contains videos on polar bears and global warming;
A Day in the Life of a Polar Bear from EnvironmentalGraffiti.com
Arctic Bears -- How Grizzlies Evolved into Polar Bears from PBS Nature.
There are also videos of polar bears hunting and swimming at PBS.
This Snippet Lesson Plan written by James Frieden and Justin Frieden. It was published on September 10, 2009.
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