January 4, 2001
Learning Links: Pockets -- Facilitator Page
Concept: Learners will play a game where they have to try to collect "food" as quickly as possible. They will compare how much food they can get when they can stuff food into an open pouch (pocket) as compared to one they must open and close (mouth).
Goals (Measurable): Learners will be able to explain why it is useful for an animal to have external pockets to collect food.
Objectives (Not measurable): Learners will enjoy the process of playing a game with others. They will see how speed is essential to the survival of some species.
- Enough small zipping bags for each learner
- Enough small non-zipping bags for each learner
- Small pieces of colored paper (perhaps 1-2" square)--at least 20 per learner
- Explain to the students that they are going to become pocket mice. (If
you prefer, you can make them Kangaroo Rats and make them hop from place to
place). They will also have a chance to become regular mice, without
pockets. Make sure that students understand that a pocket is a pouch that
opens to the outside. Pocket mice can stuff them full of food to carry back
to the safety of the nest. Ask students what other mice have to do with
their food (they cannot carry much back to the nest, and they may stay out
in the open to eat their food, since it is difficult to carry back).
- Give each child a zipping bag. Explain to them that they are first going
to become regular mice, so all they have is their mouth. In this situation,
they must EAT each piece of food. Since this takes time, they will show
that time by unzipping the bag, putting ONE piece of food (paper) into it,
then rezipping it. Learners can then move on to another piece of food. The
object of the game is to get as many pieces of food as possible in 30
seconds. Scatter the paper around a playing area, and start the learners.
Be sure to emphasize that they MUST rezip the bag between each piece of
food, because they cannot carry the food except in their stomachs (and it
doesn't go down the "throat" until they zip the bag!). After 30 seconds,
call the learners back. How much food did each get? Can they think of a
faster way to collect the food?
- Rescatter the food, and give the students a regular bag, as well as the
zipping bag. The students will now be pocket mice, so they have both
pockets and a mouth. If they put food in their mouths, they must zip the
bag, but if they stuff it into their pockets (the non-zipping bags), they
don't have to do anything special to the bag - they can stuff all the food
into those bags as quickly as they wish. It is up to the learners to decide
how they want to gather food in order to get the most, possible.
- Start the learners, again for 30 seconds, and then pull them back
together. How much food do they have, now? What was the fastest method of
getting food? Why was this the fastest way?
- Ask learners what might happen to a small animal that is out in the open
too long. What kinds of creatures might prey on them? Is it better for the
animals to have pockets or just to have mouths? Why don't all small animals
have pockets? (Most species don't have the genes to develop them) Can
learners think of any problems with having pockets? (you might overload
them until it is too heavy to move fast, you might not be able to fit
through a tight crevice because your cheeks are too big).
(Note that these are only some of the possible standards one could cover with this activity. Depending on how each person uses the activity, it may be used to support different standards.)
- Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) - Science
- Students use critical thinking skills
- Students use models, recognizing their strengths and weaknesses
- Students make decisions using information. They discuss and justify the
merits of those decisions
- Students predict, replicate, create, recognize, and copy patterns
- Students communicate valid conclusions
- Students compare various characteristics and adaptations, realizing that
these help species survive in the natural world. They compare adaptations
with the ability of an individual to survive and reproduce in a habitat.
They can predict adaptations that may be necessary in a specific
- Students understand the relationship between structure and function
- National Science Education Standards - Content Standards
- Unifying Concepts and Processes
- Form and Function
- Science as Inquiry
- Characteristics of organisms
- Structure and function in living systems
- Organisms and their environment
- Diversity and adaptation of organisms
- Behavior of organisms
- Biological evolution
Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.