People, plants, and animals move in three basic ways: by air, by land, and by water. Over millions of years, living things have adapted to their habitats by finding new ways to move around. Living things must find the most effcient method of transportation in order to survive.
How do plants move?
Most people think that plants don't move. True, most living plants are stuck where they are because of their roots. However, how does the same species of plant grow miles apart in the forest? To answer this question, we need to think about how a plant grows and reproduces. Most plants grow from a seed. But where do seeds come from, and more importantly, how do they travel?
Seeds are distributed in three ways: wind, hitchiking, and water. Every plant has developed seeds that are designed to travel in one, two, or even all three ways. The reason that seeds must travel is to ensure that a particular species of plant does not overcrowd itself and end up competing for room in the forest.
Seeds that travel by wind are usually light and fluffy, like a dandelion. These seeds need a gust of wind to carry them from their home plant to new areas.
Hitchiker seeds cover huge amounts of space with the help of people or animals. Seeds that hitchike typically have burrs or hooks that can stick into fur or clothing. When an animal or person brushes up against the seed, it attaches itself and goes where the animal or person goes. When the seed drops off the animal's fur, it can start to grow. Hitchiker seeds can also be passed through an animal's digestive system, like when an animal eats a piece of fruit. Think about how far a bird might fly before landing and depositing seeds. Also think about busy squirrels or other animals which bury nuts and forget about them. How does this help to disperse seeds and grow new plants?
How do animals move?
Think about your favorite five animals. Where do they live? What method of transportation do they use? Do they fly? Do they swim? Or do they walk, run, or climb? Slithering, jumping, flying, hopping, running, swimming, walking, and leaping are just a few ways that particular animals transport themselves. Are there any animals that move on land, water, and air?
People move too. Over the years, people have invented many ways to make it easier to move about. Trains, airplanes, bicycles, buses, boats, and canoes are all ways that people have made transportation easier.
How did you get to school today? What modes of transportation did you use this week? What makes different methods of transportation suitable for different habitats?
Each method of transportation serves a purpose. Sometimes it's easier to drive a car than ride a skateboard, and other times it's more fun to run than to take a bus. Whichever method people choose, it generally has positive or negative factors to think about. What are the positive and negative consequences of walking to the grocery store, rather than driving in a car. What benefits does airplane travel have over taking a boat. What would you miss by being on an airplane, rather than taking your time on a boat?
How does human transportation affect the planet?
All motorized vehicles emit carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere. Most scientists agree that carbon dioxide is causing global warming. You can make choices that help reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted into the Earth's atmosphere. Make a list of all of the methods of transportation you've used that don't require motors.
Seed Dispersal: http://theseedsite.co.uk/dispersal.html
Seed Dispersal Methods and Videos: http://www.mbgnet.net/bioplants/seed.html
Animal Locomotion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_locomotion
Videos of Pink River Dolphins: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/news/animals-news/amazon-dolphin-wcvin.html
Cool The Earth Campaign For Students: http://www.cooltheearth.org/
Comparison of Energy Use for Different Modes of Transportation: www.buses.org/files/ComparativeEnergy.pdf
Greenhouse Emissions for Different Modes of Transportation: http://dataservice.eea.europa.eu/atlas/viewdata/viewpub.asp?id=3513
What is your favorite part of the Trans-Amazon Expedition?