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Giant Petrels - Science and Language Arts for grades 3-5

The purpose of this activity is to learn about the giant petrel and the problems this bird faces.

1. Share the photographs of giant petrels with students and read Dan Grossman's January 14th journal entry to the students.

2. Share David Helvarg's article "Elegant Scavengers: Giant Petrels are a Bellwether Species for the Threatened Antarctic Peninsula" from the Environmental Magazine Web site at www.emagazine.com/november-december_1999/1199curr_scavengers.html

Teacher Note: You may choose to print this article and the journal entry ahead of time.

3. Discuss the following questions with your students:
  •  What do petrels eat?
  •  Where do they live?
  •  What unique defense mechanism do petrels have?
  •  How big was the bird Donna Fraser picked up?
  •  How does Donna Fraser track the petrels?
  •  How is the fishing industry impacting the petrel population?
  •  How is global warming impacting the petrel population?
  •  Do you think it is important to conduct petrel research? Explain.
  •  How many miles an hour can a petrel fly under the right conditions?
    Use the information from the "Elegant Scavengers" article to solve this problem.

4. Ask students to respond to these questions in the Antarctic Learning Log:
  •  Do you think it is important to protect the petrels? Explain.
  •  What could we do to protect the petrels?

5. Ask students to write a story about a petrel from a petrel's point of view. Tell students to include as many of the following elements in the story as possible.
  •  Description of the landscape
  •  Description of the bird
  •  What the bird eats for food
  •  The petrel's defense mechanism
  •  Problems faced by the petrel
  •  Illustrations or photographs

Teacher Note: You can use the formalized Writing Process as explained at the site www.angelfire.com/wi/writingprocess during this activity.

6. Bind students' books and provide time for students to share their books with the class.