Get Your Own Food! A Bird Beak Adaptation Activity

Hi Friends!!!!

Last week my fourth graders experimented with to see which bird beak was best for a particular food type. I have to say that this activity is probably one of my favorites!! I love life science. Heck, that's what I earned my degree in... Not to travel too far down memory lane, but when I taught middle school science, my favorite unit by far was the human body.  I really think some of my students thought I was crazy with how giddy I got teaching about anatomy and physiology.  The students would ask me every year, "Are we going to dissect a frog this year?" or "My brother said that his friend's cousin's sister dissected a pig.  Are we going to do that this year?"  OK... so I exaggerated a bit on the last part.  Anyway, I'm getting a bit off topic... that is a post for another day.  Back to the original post topic... Bird beak adaptations- I am in the process of creating an entirely new activity for this experiment, so the activity I planned wasn't exactly what I wanted the students to experience. But, it worked out fine.
I set up stations with different 'food' types & various tools that simulated bird beaks.  The 'foods' were worms in soil (rubber bands in soil), straws (cut into approximately 2-inch strips) in water (pond plants in water), beans (bugs), water (nectar), and sunflower seeds.  I gave each group five tools to test to see which worked best on the 'food' at their station.  They tested a tool on the 'food' and then recorded the results.  Each station really only took about 3 minutes.
 The tools the students used to simulate bird beaks were an eyedropper (hummingbird), pliers (parrot), tweezers (woodpecker, kiwi,etc.), strainer AKA fish net (duck), and a spoon (spoonbill). The students kept telling me that different tools worked well enough for different foods (like the spoon worked on the nectar)- but it wasn't the BEST tool.  We had a lot of fun with this activity, and it was fun seeing the light bulb go off when we talked about birds having a beak that is BEST for the food that they eat.

I hope you enjoyed reading about this exciting activity.  I would love to hear about other activities you and your students do to learn about adaptations! Until next time!! 

1 comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this activity. I'm a new teacher looking for engaging ideas. Can you share the form students completed at each station?