Oct 25

We’ve been sending out sneak peek teasers about our newest educational adventure all week but the time has come to fully unveil it. The Engineering in Nature Challenge is now live on ARKive Education complete with a Starter Kit and the 5 different engineering challenges that students can complete during this 3 week event, all inspired by nature!

Challenges include building a beak, exploring seed dispersal, learning about light reflection in trees, designing a gliding bird, and engineer an octopus suction pad.

         All of the Engineering in Nature challenges are inspired by wildlife in the ARKive collection!

Now, before you dive right into the challenge, be sure to sign up using the link below:

Sign up for the Engineering in Nature Challenge!

Why sign up? 

For this challenge, ARKive has partnered with Iridescent, a science education nonprofit that links science professionals with under privileged youth through its innovative learning platform, the Curiosity Machine. Every student registered for the challenge will be paired with a real world scientist who will work with them to create their Nature in Engineering Challenge inventions and these aren’t just any scientists! The mentors for the Engineering in Nature Challenge are practicing science at distinguished institutions such as Harvard, Stanford and more!

Signing up for the challenge also includes an invitation to our weekly Google Hangout events where Iridescent and ARKive team members will be there to support you throughout the three week challenge period in any way we can.

Ready to go?

So, are you ready to bring engineering to the classroom in a WILD way? Then, sign up today and have a look at the challenge materials on ARKive!

 Download the Engineeing in Nature Challenge Materials

Our first rounds of Google Hangouts are starting up. Join us next Friday, November 1 at 4pm ET or 4pm PT! We look forward to “seeing” you!

Liana Vitali, ARKive Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

Oct 15

Have you ever marveled at the different sizes and shapes of bird beaks or wondered just how an octopus suction pad really works? Each of these specialized adaptations in wildlife embodies a principle in engineering. Examples of engineering in nature can be found all around us whether it’s the structure of a seed pod that allows it to fly or float great distances, or the way that light filters through the leaves of a tree on a sunny day.

We are excited to announce a new learning project available to educators this fall in collaboration with Iridescent, a science education nonprofit that links science professionals with under privileged youth through its innovative learning platform, the Curiosity Machine. In this three week program called the Engineering in Nature Challenge, students ages 11-14 can learn up to five different engineering concepts all from the natural world and test their skills through invention:

Challenges!

 

Learn how a bird beak is a simple machine.

 

 

 

 

Discover flight and gliding adaptations of seed pods.

 

 

 

Explore reflection and incidence angles through light reflection in trees.

 

 

 

Test aerodynamics knowledge and skills by building a gliding bird.

 

 

 

Engineer an octopus suction pad while discovering air pressure, vacuum and suction forces.

 

Teachers can choose to do any combination of activities from the list above and each activity features films from the ARKive collection that demonstrate the engineering concepts in action.

There are two aspects to this project that make it unique from any other learning experience. First, teachers will be offered continuous support from ARKive and Iridescent team members through weekly Google Hangouts including kick-off and culmination hangouts. The team will be available to introduce you to Iridescent and the Curiosity Machine platform, troubleshoot any questions from the classroom,  and recommend additional wildlife imagery from ARKive. Second, each student will be paired up with a scientist working in the field that will offer advice and helpful feedback on the student’s work and these aren’t just any scientists! The mentors for the Engineering in Nature Challenge are practicing science at distinguished institutions such as Harvard, Stanford and more.

Iridescent pic

Child participating in an Engineering in Nature Challenge by building a gliding bird

The Engineering in Nature Challenge is a learning experience unlike any other inspiring students to explore engineering principles while developing a greater connection to nature all with the one-on-one support of exceptional real world scientists.

If you are interested in learning more about the Engineering in Nature Challenge, sign up for a sneak peek by clicking the link below.

Sneak Peek Sign Up!

You will be one of the first educators to receive the Engineering in Nature Challenge info before it goes live on the ARKive site on October 24. We look forward to sharing this learning experience with you!

Liana Vitali, ARKive Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

Jul 31

Wildlife photography is a fantastic way to discover nature – using your eyes and a camera to really explore and enjoy the natural world. You can have great fun creating stunning wild images whatever camera you have (SLR, pocket compact camera or mobile phone) and wherever you live.  Often the most exciting discoveries are right on our doorsteps – the highlight of my career was photographing a sleeping kingfisher just a few metres from house (they are unique images as far as I know)!

King of Sleeps JPG

Sleeping kingfisher © Iain Green

Whether you enjoy the artistic side of nature photography, or maybe wish to record the different wildlife and behaviour you see (probably a mixture of both) here are my top tips to help you take great wildlife shots.

 Local sites such as your garden, nearby park, beach or nature reserve offer some of the best opportunities for wildlife photography. By regularly exploring these local wild spaces you can build a detailed photographic study and create unique images. Visit sites at different times of the day and year to determine when wildlife activity is at its peak and where is the best spot to photograph.

• Do as much research as you can about the wildlife & habitats you hope to see – books, internet and wildlife charities are great Young Photographer  IG (P&C)sources. Quiz experts and local reserve staff for wildlife knowledge and advice, they are normally very happy to help.

• Get-up early, or go out late to get the best lighting conditions – especially in summer. If photographing bugs or flowers in middle of the day, use a reflector or piece of white card to bounce sunlight on to the shady side of your subject.

• Slow down and take time to think about your composition. Look for, bold colours, striking patterns or exciting action to create stunning photos. When photographing animals make sure you focus on the eyes. Experiment with composition by moving your subject off-centre and using scene features as natural frames

• Change your viewpoint. Get down low to your subjects eye-level for a better perspective and to portray nature in its own habitat. Don’t forget to look straight up or down to discover beautiful natural patterns in plants and trees. Photographing from below can make things look bigger or more impressive.

• Compact cameras are fantastic for photographing mini-beasts or flowers – don’t use the zoom, but carefully move your camera in close. The macro (flower symbol) setting on pocket cameras enables you to focus on something just a few cm away, creating striking frame-filling images.

• Learn how your camera works and don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings, such as exposure and focussing.

• Above all else get out and photograph, the best photographs are created by spending time outside and not in a camera shop. And be patient with wildlife, you may have to wait or make several visits for that special image.

Vole really close

If you are patient you could get some really great shots like this water vole image © Iain Green

Iain Green is a professional wildlife photographer and founder of www.WildWonder.co.uk, a social enterprise engaging young people, schools and adults with nature through discovery and creativity.

Feb 6

East Africa is a stunning region of the African continent. Marked by wonders such as the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Rift Valley, this area is renowned for its high concentration of widlife.

After the new BBC series ‘Africa’ took viewers to the savanna for its second episode, ARKive Geographic chose to highlight the United Republic of Tanzania this month to follow suit and showcase a nation with endless savannas to explore, along with some unique wildlife that you may be less familiar with!

Armoured Arborist

The three-cusped pangolin is an arboreal mammal that is well adapted to life in the trees, with its prehensile tail and clawed feet. This nocturnal creature is active at night searching for food, primarily consisting of ants and termites. It feasts on these critters using its incredibly long tongue which can extend to around 25 centimetres! Pangolins typically defend themselves from predators by curling into a tight ball, creating effective armor with their sharp scales. They can be found in the forests of Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa, as well as some nations in western and southern Africa.

Swimming Spelunker

The Tanganyika blackfin belongs to the Cichlidae family of freshwater fish which are adapted to a wide range of ecological niches. This has resulted in the evolution of a huge diversity of species that live in close proximity. Like many cichlids, this species occurs in a number of different colour forms, including black, light grey and yellow.  This attractive fish occupies rocky regions along the shoreline in the southern parts of Lake Tanganyika governed by Tanzania and Zambia.

Fleet Flapjack

With its unusually thin, flat shell, the pancake tortoise is more agile than other tortoise species. Since this tortoise could easily be torn apart by predators with its softer shell, it must rely on its speed and flexibility to escape from dangerous situations. This rare reptile is found in rocky habitats, also known as kopjes, in Kenya and Tanzania. It is classified as a Vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List due to habitat destruction and over-harvesting for trade.

 Spicy Islander

Kirk’s red colobus is a leaf-eating monkey found only on Zanzibar, part of an archipelago formerly known as the Spice Islands off the coast of Tanzania. This primate is named after Sir John Kirk, the British Resident to Zanzibar who first identified the species. This attractive monkey has a dark red to black coat with a paler underside and distinctive pink lips and nose. Now Endangered as a result of high rates of deforestation, it is believed that fewer than 1,500 individuals exist in the wild.

Damsel in Distress

The Amani flatwing is a damselfly aptly named for its behaviour of spreading its wings out flat when resting. These little beauties begin their life as aquatic larvae and pass through a series of developmental stages as they grow. Depending on the species, this larval period can last from three months up to ten years! Currently known only from the Amani Sigi Forest of the East Usambara Mountains in Tanzania, the Amani flatwing is classified as Critically Endangered due to destruction and degradation of its habitat.

 Carrion Commander

Rueppell’s griffon is a large African vulture that feeds solely on carrion and the bone fragments of dead animals. These sky captians spend much of their day gliding on thermal wind currents, flying with slow, powerful wing beats and looking for food from above. Griffons have frequent squabbles with one another over food, with grunting and hissing often a part of their aggression. This amazing bird is listed as Endangered, and occurs in a number of protected areas throughout its range, including the Serengeti National Park, a World Heritage Site and an important feeding area for the griffon.

Do you have a favorite savanna species to share with us? Find us on Twitter or Facebook!

Maggie Graham, ARKive Program Assistant, Wildscreen USA

Feb 3

In the United States, the National Football League’s Super Bowl Championship game is the most watched sporting event of the year. Commonly referred to as Super Bowl Sunday, this informal holiday is an occasion for people to gather, eat a lot of food, and root for their favorite team. This year, the Baltimore Ravens will take on the San Francisco 49ers to fight for the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy on February 3, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Some of the NFL team mascots are inspired by the animal kingdom.  In honor of this, we thought we would highlight some of the animals which display true athleticism, whilst  their human counterparts flash down the football field this Superbowl Sunday.

Shot Caller 

Raven photo

Perhaps the most influential position on the football field is that of the quarterback. This is a role of leadership, strategy and fitness – they call the offensive plays and must attempt to execute them. In the wild, the raven is known for its intelligence and athleticism. They are also playful birds, frequently performing mid-air acrobatics and passing objects to each other. These are all characteristics of a true quarterback! They have a variety of vocalizations, but instead of yelling “hut, hut – hike!” on the football field, they are more likely to caw “krack-krack-krack!”. The Baltimore Ravens have secured their seat in the Super Bowl, and could not have done it without their quarterback, Joe Flacco, a human raven!

Catcher on the Fly

Photo of bottlenose dolphin

The Miami Dolphins are a popular football team based in Florida, with the bottlenose dolphin as an appropriate representative. Another offensive position is that of the wide receiver, an athlete that must be able to catch a ball in mid-air while running at top speeds. Dolphins definitely have this maneuver down, with a keen ability to swim at high speeds and leap out of the water to catch fish. They are also highly intelligent and social animals, living in groups of up to 100 individuals. Another important trait on the football field is strong communication, so I think Miami has found the perfect mascot!

Charging Challenger

bighorn sheep photo

In order to get the football down the field, you need a strong offensive tackle to block and take down the opponent in front of you. The St. Louis Rams have an excellent mascot for this position. Bighorn sheep males, known as rams, are anything but lamb-like with their massive horns weighing up to 14 kilograms, and ability to leap over rocks and verticals with ease – like a footballer jumping lineman! Rams often engage in dominance battles by pushing and shoving one another before rearing up on the hind legs and lunging forwards and down, bringing the horns together with tremendous force. This species ranges from south-west Canada, through western and central USA into northern Mexico.

Brawny Blocker

photo of brown bear
The Chicago Bears from Illinois sport a brown bear mascot, an excellent representation of the linebacker on the field. The undeniably large defensemen use their sheer mass to keep the opposing team from getting a first down. Similarly, brown bears have the stature of a linebacker, with the largest subspecies of brown bears, the Kodiak bear weighing up to a hefty 780 kilograms. They are also opportunistic feeders, and move in response to food aggregations. Few creatures will get by a bear of this size without its permission!

Swift Scorer

Peregrine falcon photo

The peregrine falcon is the muse for the Atlanta Falcons from the state of Georgia, another high achieving team that made it to the playoffs this year. Renowned for record speed as the fastest animal on the planet and sheer grace in the sky, these birds of prey are capable of speeds up to 250 kilometres per hour diving for prey. Similar to a runningback on the football field who must show swiftness and finesse with the ball in order to score for their team, a peregrine falcon has the prey handling skills while at top speeds to be a successful sky predator. 

Talented Tackler

Jaguar photo

The Jacksonville Jaguars have an ideal mascot for demonstrating the important role of defensive tackle. This position requires strength, mass, and agility to rundown and seize the opposing ball carrier. The jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas, with its power displayed through its impressive muscling, deep chest, large head and strong jaw. Its common name comes from the native Indian name ‘yaguara’, meaning ‘a beast that kills its prey with one bound. Once ranging farther across the United States, the jaguar is now only known to be photographed in Arizona, otherwise existing only in Central and South America.

Which team will you root for this Super Bowl? Let us know on ARKive’s Facebook and Twitter pages!

Maggie Graham, ARKive Program Assistant, Wildscreen USA

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