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TeachNetUSA: Penguins Nesting Know-How
Part I: Penguins Marching into Your Classroom

This project immerses classrooms in the world of Adelie penguins live from Antarctica. Students maintain a field journal as they follow penguin parents raising their chicks during the breeding season.

Students will be able to:

1) make predications;
2)gather, organize and analyze data using long term observations;
3) formulate testable questions;
4) reflect on animal behavior in the field related to survival and chick rearing;
5) maintain a field journal over a 10 week study;
6) describe the role of technology in gathering data in the field;
7) describe the career of a field biologist and list the importance of their work; 
8) revise and reflect on predictions as new information is learned.

Vocabulary Concepts
Antarctica, Adelie Penguins, Polar Regions, sea ice, ice floe, leopard seal, krill, food web, food chains, population dynamics, habitat change, global climate change, crèche, molting, krill, glacier, adaptation, breeding colony.

These activities include a 10-week study of individual nesting pairs of Adelie penguins on Ross Island, Antarctica.

Starting November 15th, 2007, daily pictures of selected nests will be posted on the Internet for students to make observations, gather data, create their own field journal, make predictions and respond to inquiry based questions about penguin behavior.

Classrooms or individual students may adopt a nesting pair of penguins and watch as they lay their eggs (mid-November), hatch their chick (mid-December), and fledge their young (late January). Activities on the website engage students in the lives of penguins, their adaptations to Antarctica, their behavior, and their breeding cycle. Students answer inquiry-based questions about field observations and connect with researchers during the breeding season.

Students will prepare a data chart in a science journal and collect data daily for the chart. Entries will include date, weather, which parent is on the nest, how long each parent is away from the nest foraging, how many eggs or chicks there are and other observations from the pictures.

Check in daily on the "Nest Check" page at: http://penguinscience.com/education

Students may send questions to the researcher at penguin_letters@yahoo.com.


  1. Make observations and take field notes.
  2. Keep a scientific field journal.
  3. Gather and analyze data over a long period.
  4. Make and revise predictions.
  5. Answer inquiry based questions.
  6. Journal writing and reflection on observations.
  7. Oral discussion and presentations.

Standards Addressed:

Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
Understanding scientific inquiry
Characteristics of organisms and life cycles
How organisms adapt to their environment
Populations and ecosystems
Resources and environments
Science as a human endeavor
Writing and keeping a journal
Gathering and analyzing data
Making and revising predictions
Oral presentations

The lessons are geared to grades 3-6. However any classroom interested in penguins will find something of interest in these activities and photos from the field.

Overall Value
Students are engaged in scientific research as they follow Adelie penguin chicks live from the field struggling to survive. Students maintain a science journal over a 10-week period gaining practice in gathering data, writing reflections about their observations, and sharing their predictions and thoughts with others. Students formulate thoughtful questions to send to the researcher in the field.

Teacher Tips:
Visit the education page on the website below for activities about penguins, lots of close-up pictures showing penguin adaptations, and a chance to get a postcard from Antarctica. www.penguinscience.com

To Part I: Penguins Marching into Your Classroom

About the teacher
Jean Pennycook has been a science teacher for 20 years and recently left the classroom to help Antarctic scientists connect their research to children. Through a grant from National Science Foundation, Jean will be working in the Adelie penguin breeding colony from November through February, uploading pictures onto the internet every day, allowing students to watch baby chicks as they grow.

Fresno Unified School District


Subject Areas  
General elementary

Grade Levels 
Pre-shcool to grade 6

To Part I: Penguins Marching into Your Classroom


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