|Unit Two: Observer
- define observe.
- observe objects from different perspectives.
- read and discuss a poem about how differently people
- learn about Dr. Jane’s experiences as an observer.
- complete journal entries by writing about the characteristics
of a good observer based on personal experiences and Dr.
- practice their observation skills by observing chimpanzees
via video and writing field notes.
- research general information about chimpanzees.
- choose a chimpanzee behavior that is of interest and
research it with available online resources.
- orally report their research findings.
||Dr. Jane’s Lesson
|Dr. Jane’s observation skills
and knowledge of animals enabled her to earn a research position
studying chimpanzees in Africa through which she gained much
success. Your students can follow Dr.
Jane’s journey of ape observation starting from when
she was unable to get close to the chimpanzees without them
fleeing to when she began making significant discoveries such
as tool use. Students are often told that hard work, patience,
and persistence are important. In this lesson, Dr. Jane offers
real life examples of how these characteristics can lead to
- Part 1 – 45 minutes
- Part 2 – 1 hour
- Other objects for students to observe
||Connecting to the Content
| Every day people walk past nature
of all forms without taking notice. Yet, keen observation
is an important part of experiencing the world and being an
effective problem solver. Students first gain an appreciation
of how different perspectives can alter observations. Students
then experience being observers by conducting their own mini
research projects with chimpanzees on video. This experience
allows them to practice for the proceeding Pioneer section
in which students observe captive and wild animals.
Part 1: Sharpening Observation Skills
- Direct the class to Merriam-Webster’s
Online Dictionary to find the definition of observe.
Point out the different definitions listed. Considering
the purpose of the Observer section, which definition do
they think best applies to the word “observe”?
- Challenge students to conduct the following observation
- Examine a stainless steel soup spoon and describe
the difference of the inner and outer side of the curved
surfaces. Did you notice this before?
- Select an object and describe it using as many of
your senses as possible and then share your description
of it and see if another person can guess what it is.
Be sure not to mention the name of the object in your
- Find and carefully observe a natural object in your
environment from at least three different perspectives
(e.g., up close, a few feet away, etc.). Write down
three observations from each perspective and hypotheses
for what you see. Discuss how the observations were
affected by perspective and how the explanations changed
with the addition of information.
- Complete the group activity: "Mystery
Poem: How Do We Interpret Observations?"
Mystery Poem: How Do We Interpret Observations?
- Divide the class into six groups.
- Read introduction to the mystery poem.
- Assign each group one clue to read.
- Have students discuss with their groups what animal
they believe is being described in the stanza.
- Ask students to read the conclusion and discuss their
findings with the class using the discussion questions:
- What does this poem have to do with science?
- How would the observations of six blind scientists
change the poem?
- How could the observations of six people who happen
to be blind be more valuable than observations of
just one person?
- Read the original version of the poem.
- Direct the class to Dr.
Jane’s Scrapbook to listen to her reflections
- Ask students to complete their journal entries by writing
about the characteristics of a good observer based on their
Part 2: Survey of Chimpanzee Behavior
- Have students practice their observation skills by viewing
and making field notes.
- Challenge them to conduct their own mini
primate research project.
Mini Primate Research Project
- Ask students to complete the Chimpanzee
Basics Worksheet to learn about chimpanzee culture
- Direct students to the ABCs
of Chimpanzee Behavior for a list of common behaviors
found in chimpanzee communities. Have them read the
list and pick the behaviors that interest them most.
- Have students write a list of the most interesting
- Tell the class to choose one behavior type and research
it using the resources
- Challenge students to write a list of further questions
prompted by their research. They may be able to ask
these questions if they visit the zoo during their field
observation in the next section.
- Have the class be prepared to give a brief oral presentation
on their research findings.
- Encourage the class to view the video clips of chimpanzees
for a second time and then compare their notes to those
of a researcher at Gombe.
- Have students give an oral presentation on their mini
primate research project.
- explain the meaning of the word observe.
- demonstrate their knowledge of how different perspectives
(both from different locations and from different people)
can alter observations.
- indicate which senses they used while making their observations.
- communicate the challenges they faced as observers.
- explain the information they gathered about their topic.
- share the questions they had after researching the topic
|Students may want to choose a different
research topic for the Mini Primate Research Project.
- Altruism – Behavior that benefits
another individual at some cost to the helper.
- Estrus – A regularly recurrent
state of sexual readiness during which the female of most
mammals will accept the male and is capable of conceiving.
- Observe – To watch carefully, especially
with attention to details or behavior for the purpose of
arriving at a judgment.