Teaching Unit

This is a three-part teaching unit that is meant to introduce students to the following concepts:  spectrometry, evolutionary adaptation, light spectrum


Recognize the difference in eye structures of humans, birds and insects.
Connect the structural differences with evolutionary needs.
Describe the function of a spectrometer and explain its similarities and differences to eye structure.
Discuss the visible, IR and UV light spectra.
Analyze the effectiveness of various chemicals in attracting birds/insects.
Develop, carry out and analyze data from an experiment.
Research, collect and present information on related topics.

Part One –

Research:  The students will work in groups to complete a short internet research project in which they will be required to find various pieces of information and put that information together into a Power Point or podcast.  The topics they must research are as follows:

human eye structure
bird eye structure
insect eye structure
visible light spectrum
IR light spectrum
UV light spectrum
human visible range
bird visible range
insect visible range
insect and bird food acquisition methods
insect and bird mating methods

Part Two –

Develop and Carry Out an Experiment:  The students will develop a controlled experiment in which they discuss in their groups how to change the color and/or chemical composition of sugar water to attract birds/insects.  They will support their hypothesis using the information learned when they completed Part One.  The students will then conduct the experiment, prepare and deliver a presentation of their findings.

Part Three –

Inventors Hour:  The students will create and draw a design for an instrument that they think would help humans live better by seeing a larger range of wavelengths.  The design will be accompanied by a written explanation and justification.  Designs will be presented in class.

Spec Project Main Page
The Eye as Spectrometer
Avian and Insectoid Ocular Adaptations
Improving the Human Visible Range
Teaching Unit