Dragons of the Insect World
Have you ever seen a "dragon" fly? What is a dragonfly and where have you seen them? The dragons around wetlands don't breathe out fire but they have many other fascinating traits, including great flying ability. These three lessons focus on the fascinating physical and behavioral adaptations of dragonflies. Students start with general observations of the adults in lesson one, become familiar with larva (nymph) and adult anatomy in lesson two, and then study a single species - the Whitetail Dragonfly - in lesson three. This common wetland visitor is used as a model to help students develop inquiry skills needed for investigating other organisms.
- Students discuss ways they think scientists learn about animals
- Students share their knowledge about insects and specifically dragonflies
- Students prepare their dragonfly notebooks
- Students describe dragonfly behavior and habitat
- Students use observations to construct questions and write about dragonflies
What is the life cycle of a human? How is the life cycle of a human similar to and different from that of a dragonfly? Do dragonflies grow the same body parts as other animals? In this lesson students study the life cycle and anatomy of both dragonflies and damselflies. They investigate the process of metamorphosis and distinguish between dragonflies and damselflies at nymph and adult stages.
- Students produce a model of metamorphosis by recording evidence of dragonfly life cycle stages
- Students create a growth graph by measuring similar nymphs over time and categorize nymphs into early, middle, or late stages of development based on size
- Students become familiar with the anatomy of dragonflies and damselflies
We know that animals must find food, keep from being food, and successfully mate in order for the species to survive. But how important is having a territory and how do different animals communicate to other members of their species that "you have trespassed upon my territory?" How do humans communicate with each other? Do we mostly talk? Are our facial expressions, hands, and body posture important in human communication? Because we are a highly verbal species we may overlook important visual communication clues in the animal kingdom. Students can begin to appreciate the subtleness of animal interactions by sorting out some of the visual displays of a single dragonfly species. The observation skills they develop have broad application for other animals and will hopefully encourage students to ask questions and apply their skills to other species, including their own. We encourage you to involve students in the lesson extension on Understanding What Your Dog is "Saying" - it may well prevent injury by a beloved pet that is confused by the hodgepodge of verbal commands and actions of a naïve family member.
- Students refine observation and note taking skills
- Students focus on the behavior of a single dragonfly species
- Students help design and conduct behavior experiments