New biology ideas and resource tips
It can be tough to come up with new and innovative ways to teach topics that you may have taught many times over. Or maybe this is your first time teaching the subject and want some ideas. I have come up with a list of 3 ideas that utilize primates to explain and expand on some of the main curriculum ideas in the Ontario guidelines for the biology section of grade 9 science. By using primates as examples to explain the curriculum, the material becomes more relatable as we are primates ourselves.
1. The deforestation crisis happening in Indonesia right now is being fueled by massive palm oil plantations. People burn down the rainforest to create room for this monoculture. A lot of the times the fires burn out of control and destroy many million more acres of forest than intended. Because of this, orangutans, one of the 5 great apes, will probably be extinct in our lifetime if this destruction is not stopped. You can use the palm oil issue as a case study for your students to assess the impact of human activities on the sustainability of terrestrial ecosystems and evaluate the effectiveness of different ways to stop the negative affects on orangutans. Have them figure out ways in which they can make a difference to help orangutans by avoiding products that have palm oil for example.
2. Look into how climate change is affecting primate population. Research done by primatologist Colin Chapman has shown that increased rainfall due to climate change in African rainforests leads to decreased protein content in leaves, which is the main food source for some leaf eating monkeys. Increased rainfall can also lead to increased parasites, which can lead to more infections in primates and a lowered life expectancy. Then there is a drying trend in the African savanna due to climate change which could lead to less fruit and leaf production and less resources for monkeys to eat and affect their population viability.
3. Have the students describe the limiting factors of a habitat where a particular primates lives. The students can choose the primate and do a mini research project on what limits their population. Food resources, territory, water, competition with other groups and predators. Have the students present the findings to the class.
Hopefully these tips give you some new ideas to explore the amazing world of primates and get your students excited about their grade 9 science class. If you teach other grades check out our tips for grade 10 science, grade 11 biology and grade 12 biology.
If you want a more in-depth look about the above topics for your students we would be happy to come and give a Primate Tales presentation to your class. Check out our in-class program page for more information and book a program if you are interested.
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