Swimming Creatures Lesson 2 - Whales

1/26/2009
We learned all about cetaceans in this lesson. Whales are cetaceans because they are in Kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordata, class Mammalia and order Cetacea. Cetaceans are divided into two kinds: baleen whales and toothed whales. We learned that whales have big brains and are considered the most intelligent marine animal. The end of a whale's tail is called a fluke and it uses its fluke to steer and for power when it swims. They also move their tail up and down to swim, unlike a fish that moves its tail side to side to swim. We learned that the whale has a nose on the top of its head (its blowhole) and we studied the breathing system of the whale. We read about whale moves and did a notebooking page describing and illustrating breaching, spyhopping, lobtailing and logging. We read about whalers, why they hunted whales, and what they were used for (blubber for oil for lamps). We read about the conservation laws that now protect whales from extinction. We read and did a notebooking page on whale migration. We learned that a baby whale is called a calf and calves are born tail first and that the mother guides them to the surface for their first breath of air. We saw a killer whale calf being born in the movie Free Willy 3. So cool! An interesting thing we learned is that killer whales are friendly to humans and they get their name from being a vicious predator at sea. We learned about and did a notebooking page on toothed whales - dolphins, porpoises, killer whales, beluga whales, narwhals, and sperm whales. We studied the differences between a dolphin and a porpoise. Try This! We did an activity to learn how a dolphin uses echolocation using their melon (a structure used for echolocation). We rolled two pieces of cardstock into two megaphones. We had one person talk through the megaphone towards a wall. . . at the same time, another person stood at an angle to the wall listening with the megaphone next to their ear. What we learned is that some objects reflect sounds better than others. This is how a toothed whale uses sound to determine what kind of object is near. Try This! We did an activity to understand how beluga whales can live in waters that are below freezing, yet the waters are not frozen. To find out how this can be, we took 2 cups and filled them both with water. To one of the cups we added salt and stirred then placed them both in the freezer. We checked them after a couple hours and the plain water was frozen solid but the salt water was not. We learned that salt lowers the freezing temperature of water. We read about and did a notebooking page on baleen whales - blue, humpback, gray and right whales. It was fun to learn that the blue whale is the largest animal that has ever lived on earth and is still alive today! After we did our reading, I asked the boys the "What Do You Remember" questions and I am always amazed at how much they remember! We researched the news on the Internet to find a recent report on a beached whale. We found a recent story of whole pod of whales that were beached off the coast of Australia last Thursday. It was sad to see so many whales beached. From our text, we understood that scientists are unsure why a whale will beach itself and sometimes when rescued, they will beach themselves again and often the whole pod will beach themselves. Not Much Chance for Lone Beached Whale Raw video footage of the beached whales: Whales are able to communicate with one another because sound travels better through water than air. So, we did a sound experiment to explore how sound travels. The boys hypothesized whether sound will travel better through air or yarn. They experimented with the yarn loose and tight. We discovered that sound travels better through the string when it is stretched tight. It really works! We realized that ocean waves can carry sound waves a long way, much like the tight string. Some links we visted: World of Whales Photos of Whale Flukes Whale Video and Sound Files Kayaking with Killer Whales Blue Whale Photos and Video Whale Songs Echolocation in Dolphins Discovering the Dolphins Secret

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