Do you know what a Beargle is? Neither did I. Not until one of my students turned in this fictional creature as a project. In case you were wondering, it’s half bear, half eagle. This middle school animal adaptations project is pure magic.
I created this out of sheer desperation, knowing I had to teach animal adaptations and having no idea what to do. It turned out to be one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. There are about a hundred different versions of this project online. The students create an animal with different adaptations, draw it, and write about it. This is that.
Except, this is NOT that.
Teaching 8th grade science, I knew I needed something that was going to not just be fluff. It needed to be rigorous, yet capture their imagination.
Imagination Meets Research
My students were super interested when they heard they were going to create their own animal!
I mean, who doesn’t want to make a scorpion wolf?! Their animal had to include five structural adaptations and three behavioral adaptations that addressed specific survival needs.
They got a planning sheet, helping them detail some of these requirements. Each student completed their own research on animal adaptations. If they wanted their animal to be an herbivore, they looked up what herbivores needed to survive. They really did a good job finding adaptations and meeting the requirements.
After they finished their research, they named their animal and created a Google Slides presentation addressing each adaptation and it helped their animal survive.
Ya’ll, these projects were bomb!
I was so impressed! I did not have high expectations (and that makes me a terrible teacher). Come on. It’s a middle school animal adaptation project… it can’t be that great.
I got a Beargle. One student made a Butterfish – half butterfly, half fish. I will never forget the sound BeeveCoon makes… because every time the student said, “BeeveCooooon!” she would make the sound effect too. They made models out of Legos, clay, dog toys… you name it!
Imagination Meets Rigor
The same day the slides presentation on their animal was due, they completed the second phase of the project, answering the question, “Can my animal can survive in a mystery environment?” Based on the adaptations they gave their animal, would it survive in the rainforest, the taiga, or the desert? However, they didn’t have the locations until the last day of the project.
After some quick research, they made a claim – their animal could or could not survive in that environment. They completed two prompts using their animal’s adaptations as evidence to explain their reasoning.
Their responses were impressive! I read well thought out, clear, and accurate arguments. They told me exactly what adaptations allowed their animal to live there. Definitely a winning moment for me!
Show It Off
Once I realized HOW COOL these turned out, I knew we had to display them. We added their presentations to a QR code and put them in the display case in the hallway. I wish I had taken a picture, because they looked SO AWESOME. Parents came through at conferences and could scan the QR code to look at the presentations.
Finally, here’s my last favorite part of my project. It takes about a week of class time to complete. I’m all about having kids work instead of talking at them.
I’m serious. This middle school animal animal adaptations project is a MUST HAVE if you teach life science. Imagination meets rigor. That’s the only way to do it. Grab your copy of this project here!