Most of my students have never seen a lake or ocean. They drop their jaws in amazement at Shape of Life videos.
Shape of Life offers classroom media and resources depicting the evolution of the animal kingdom on planet earth. Explore animal adaptation, animations, and behaviors along with the amazing scientists who bring their stories to life. Discover a rich selection of NGSS materials including lesson plans, readings, illustrations and activities that inspire a deeper dive into animal phyla. Shape of Life content is FREE to students and educators all over the world.
NATURE: The Mother of Biomimicry
“I was always playing outside as a kid in Alabama. This definitely influenced my curiosity in science. I had an unending desire to investigate how the natural world works.”
Crawfordsville Middle School, IN
Discover more about how Shannon helps her students investigate their world
Where Engineering Meets Science
When Kakani asked her engineer grandfather what direction she should explore in her education, he replied, “well, civil engineering is about concrete, and that can get boring. So, aerospace seems like a good idea.”
And so began an incredible journey from championship figure skating to groundbreaking discoveries of our oceans and how much we have to learn from larvaceans. Larvaceans, our featured chordate, are a vital part of the food web. Through Dr. Kakani Katija’s research we have learned just how pervasive plastics are in our oceans.
“Really, I want to develop tools that will help science discovery explode.”
- Dr. Kakani Katija
Professor and Department Chair, Earth & Planetary Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz
Like so many kids Matthew loved dinosaurs when he was growing up in Vancouver, B.C. It wasn’t a direct route from “dinos” to his current career, though. He was lucky enough to take a geology class in the 12th grade and discovered he was fascinated by fossils and rocks and geology. And, like many future paleontologists, Matthew enjoyed the outdoors, boy scouts and hiking. In college he liked chemistry and geology but wasn’t thinking paleontology until he took a class in it and thought: “I can do this!”
We all know that bees are pollinators. And that their pollinating is essential to ecosystems and the food we eat.
Sadly, wild bees and honeybees have been in decline in recent decades. Parasites, pesticides, pathogens, and the climate crisis are main factors impacting bees today. As the only insect that is responsible for at least one third of our food, we may literally starve from their decline.
Can robot bees help?
Photograph credit: Denise Ryan
Nature has inspired inventions since the first humans tried to make things. Biomimicry is the practice of looking to nature to help solve design problems. Today scientists and engineers are finding inspiration from animals and plants that may surprise you.
Look carefully at these images.
They almost look real. But they are actually astounding glass marine creatures created by the father and son artists/naturalists Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka. Every time I look at one I am awe struck by the extreme detail. How could they have done this?
Catastrophic wildfires, destructive floods, intensifying hurricanes, heat waves, and drought. No matter where we live, we all know that climate change is happening. More than 200 of the world’s most influential climate scientists issued the 6th IPCC (United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Report in August 2021 summarizing the science on the effects of climate change happening now.
The extreme heat wave that hit the Pacific Northwest in July wasn’t just brutal on us it also killed an estimated billion coastal marine animals. It’s hard to grasp the extent of the mass die-off of mussels, oysters, sea cucumbers, sea stars, and many other species.
The ‘heat dome’ brought unprecedented high temperatures during some of the lowest tides of the year, exposing animals living along the shore to hours of sun and heat. What did those shores filled with dead animals mean for that ecosystem? All of the ecosystem services – like filtering of seawater, providing food for other species, including humans, and habitat for other species – disappeared.
Most intertidal animals are resilient and will likely recover. However, the climate crisis we’re in now means extreme weather will become more frequent and intense around the globe, making it harder for recovery. How extreme these kinds of events become is up to us. The time to act is NOW.