Bird Beak Race

Good Afternoon scientists! We just finished a fun race against time to simulate different bird beak shapes to find out which was the most successful for collecting our beans.

MaterialsBird Beak Race (3)

15 Bean Soup Mix

Plastic Cup

Plastic Fork

Plastic Spoon

Plastic Knife

Investigation

*This is a great investigation for a birthday party or large group as well as individually*

**You can do this investigation inside or outside**

  1. Start by pouring a small layer of beans into a plastic cup. If you are planning on have more then one child please increase the beans so that each child will have an opportunity to pick up lots of beans.Bird Beak Race (4)
  2. Take your beans outside and spread them around the area that you will be having your bird beak race. (You could choose to do this inside too, we did it on the patio rug, but out in the grass is also fun and a bit more challenging for older kids).Bird Beak Race (13)
  3. Explain to your little scientist that they will be pretending to be a bird and they will use one type of beak at a time (plastic knife, plastic fork, and plastic spoon). They will only be able to pick up the food (beans) using their beak, they can not use their hands to help them. Once they capture their food they will dump it into their nest (cup). Demonstrate picking up the bean with the knife.Bird Beak Race (16)
  4. Give your little scientist 30 seconds to pick up as many beans as they can using only their knife. Count their results and put them back onto the field.Bird Beak Race (39)
  5. Give your little scientist 30 seconds to pick up as many beans as they can using only their fork. Count their results and put them back onto the field.Bird Beak Race (26)
  6. Give your little scientist 30 seconds to pick up as many beans as they can using only their spoon. Count their results and put them back onto the field.Bird Beak Race (34)
  7. Repeat as many times as you like to see if the birds are able to capture more food as your child gets better at using the different beaks.

Talking Points

In this experiment we used a plastic knife, plastic fork, and plastic spoon to simulate bird beaks. We were exploring the different shapes of the beaks and how efficient the beak was at bringing food to our “nest” (Cup). Organisms, like plants and animals, have adaptations to make them more successful in their environment, these adaptations (changes) help the animal or plant live longer and produce more offspring (children). In our investigation the bird with the spoon adaptation and fork adaptation were more successful at capturing the beans. In nature the bird population with the spoon shaped and fork shaped beaks would increase over time. The bird with the knife shaped beak was not as successful at capturing food, this type of bird would decrease over time or possible disappear entirely. This is an example of natural selection or survival of the fittest. The birds with spoon shaped and fork shaped beaks would increase as they were better able to find food and would live longer to produce more offspring then the birds with the knife shaped beaks. Over time as natural selection takes place, micro evolution occurs, it is small changes over time in a population.

Extended Learning: Talk about how the size, shape, and color of the beans affected how often it got chosen by the birds instead of a different type of bean. You could also try the investigation in different locations and see if that changes how hard or easy it is to find the beans.

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