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Bats of Arizona
 

Here are some ideas to incorporate the Bats of Arizona poster into your third grade classroom. The appropriate standards are listed below each activity.

Anatomy

Compare and contrast the anatomy of bats to birds and mammals. Focus on the bones in the forelimb. Are bats more similar to birds or humans? Why? What advantages do the design of the wings give to birds? What advantages are given to bats? Do you think birds or bats are more adept fliers? Why?

  • Science: Strand 4, Concept 4, Objective 1

Diversity

Research bat diversity. How many species of bats are there in North America? Worldwide? How does this compare to other mammals? In what parts of the world can bats be found? Which state has the most species? Which state has the least? Why? Where does Arizona rank?

  • Science: Strand 3, Concept 3, Objective 1
  • Technology: Standard 5, Foundations 1, Objective 2

Endangered Species

Using the "Bats of the United States and Canada", make a pie chart showing the total number of bats compared to those that are endangered and those that are of special concern. What percentage of the bats is in need of protection? Do endangered bats appear to come from one family more than any other or are they fairly well distributed? Why? Identify bats found in Arizona and make a similar chart. How do the percentage of protected bats in Arizona compare to that of the U.S. and Canada?

  • Science: Strand 4, Concept 3, Objective 5
  • Science: Strand 4, Concept 4, Objective 3

Disease Control

West Nile virus has become a big concern in Arizona. A great deal of money is being invested in pesticides to kill mosquitoes, which transmit this disease. Some people have suggested that bats could be used as a safer and more effective method of controlling West Nile virus. Use the Internet to research this idea. Be sure to evaluate the costs, not only in money but in resources such as time and energy. Might certain bats make better disease controls? Can you suggest other animals that might serve as disease controls? Justify your responses.

  • Science: Strand 4, Concept 3, Objective 4

Mythology

Bats have been a part of human mythology for thousands of years. Use the Internet to research some of the myths and legends about bats. Based on the stories you found, are bats portrayed positively or negatively? Are they supported by facts? If so, which ones? Select one of the stories you found that misrepresents bats and rewrite it so that it accurately depicts these animals.

  • Technology: Standard 5, Foundations 1, Objective 2

Echolocation

Although bats are not blind, they often use their hearing to locate animals. Echolocation is the scientific name for this method. Bats are capable of emitting a high frequency call from their mouths. This call occurs at a wavelength that only they can hear. When the wave hits an object, it bounces back to the bat, giving them an approximate direction and distance. This is why bats are often photographed with their mouths open: they are navigating through the night sky trying to find prey. Simulate echolocation by playing a modified version of the popular pool game “Marco Polo.” Have the class get in a large circle. Ask for a volunteer to be the bat. This person will be blindfolded. Ask for 3 – 4 other volunteers to be moths. All of the volunteers should be inside the circle. Anytime the “bat” says, “BAT!” then the moths must reply with “MOTH.” The “bat” continues calling until he or she is able to locate the “moths.” When the game is finished, discuss this activity with the students. Comment that this was a simulation. How was it similar to what bats actually do? How was it different? Point out that bats are not actually blind. What benefits does echolocation have over eyesight? Are bats that echolocate blind?

  • Science: Strand 4, Concept 4, Objective 1

Math

Answer the following math problems related to bats:

  • A human’s active heartbeat is 150 times per minute. For a bat, it is 900 per minute. How much faster does the bat’s heart beat? How many times does a bat’s heart beat in one second? When a bat hibernates, the rate drops to about 20 beats per minute. How much does it slow down? How many times will a hibernating bat’s heart beat in one day?
  • Insectivorous bats can eat half their weight in insects every night! Many of these insects, like moths, are considered pests because they can damage crops. If a bat weighs 16 grams and a moth weighs 0.4 grams, how many moths can the bat eat in one night? How many moths could it eat from May to September?
  • If a bat can pollinate flowers on 12 different saguaro cacti in one night, how many cacti will the bat pollinate in one month? How long does the saguaro blooming season typically last? How many cacti might be pollinated by one bat in that time?
  • Mexican free-tailed bats produce one baby (known as a “pup”) each year. How many pups will a colony of five million females produce in one summer? If half the babies are eaten by predators or die during the long fall migration back to Mexico, how many are left? If one quarter of the remaining young die in their winter roost or during the spring migration back to Arizona, how many will return?
  • Math: Strand 1, Concept 1, Objective 11

Adaptations

Throughout the world, there are bats that can eat a variety of foods. In Arizona, there are bats that eat insects and bats that eat nectar. What adaptations would you expect a bat to have in order to catch insects? What adaptations would nectar-feeding ones need? Below is a list of adaptations. Organize them into groups based on whether they are most likely adaptations for insect or nectar feeders. When you are finished, try to identify the two nectar-feeding bats found in Arizona on the poster.

  • Short, broad wings and a large tail allow the bat to dart in and out of branches.
  • Long tongue
  • Wings that allow the bat to hover
  • Sophisticated echolocation abilities
  • Long, narrow nose and very small teeth
  • Science: Strand 4, Concept 4, Objective 1

Wild Kids

Check out the Wild Kids activity page focused on bats. Be sure to pick the appropriate grade level.

  • Reading: Strand 1, Concept 3, Objective 1

Bat Houses

As a school project, try attracting bats to your schoolyard. Use the following websites to research directions on building a bat house and build your own!

  • Reading: Strand 3, Concept 2, Objective 1
 

 
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