- Sponsorship -

Jump like a squirrel

Third-graders learn animal adaptations by the leaps and the bounds

Wyoming – Ashley DeMaagd bent her knees and sprung off the floor, jumping forward 63 inches, or 5-feet, 3 inches.

Nice jump for someone without a tail or claws.

“We can jump pretty far,” Ashley said of herself and her bouncy third-grade classmates at Oriole Park Elementary. “But squirrels, because of their body structure, can jump like 15 feet. Crazy.”

Ashley had just learned from teacher Sheri Adams that squirrels are so good at propelling themselves smoothly from tree to tree or between branches — bodies spread wide — due to several anatomical features. Turns out, a swish-swishing tail, strong back legs and sharp claws allow for some serious leaps. 

Students compared their jumps — the best of three performed and measured on the classroom carpet — to that of the bushy tailed rodents. Adams recorded each student’s farthest jump on a line plot graph. How would their best jumpers compare to the average squirrel? Not even close. “No, that cannot be possible!” Ashley said when she learned a squirrel can jump 120 inches.

Social worker Lisa VandeWaa measures third-grader Isai Guillen’s jump

While the industrious outdoor creatures are spending their fall days collecting acorns and preparing for cooler days ahead, students are learning just how they go about what they do so well. The activity was part of a unit Adams is teaching on squirrels developed by Lucas Education Research, which offers project-based learning lessons aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and state standards in literacy and math.

The unit’s big question concerns the survival of animals and adaptations:  “Why do I see so many squirrels but I can’t find any stegosauruses?”

Adams said students learn about small mammal adaptations present in squirrels that have helped them survive the millenia including diet, jumping and balancing ability, sharp teeth (better for opening acorns), and other anatomical features. They also learned fun facts like how tricky squirrels like to dig holes and leave them empty, misleading other squirrels about where they’ve stashed their acorns.

Said second-grader Hayleigh Duck: “We’ve learned that they have really good jumping and they can land and get a nut out of the ground.”

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

LATEST ARTICLES

Young constitutional scholars view current events, politics through historical lens

East Grand Rapids and East Kentwood high school We the People team members have qualified for the national competition, becoming well versed in civics and critical thinking along the way...

Rain gutter regatta showcases buoyancy, engineering skills

An annual boat race has become a highlight of sixth-grade science class. At stake: bragging rights and 'a goofy trophy'...

The Hood family: a school & community leadership dynasty

Five generations have lived within a five- to six-mile radius dating back to a government work program in the 1930s...

The sky’s the limit (or is it?) for this accomplished model builder

Creative, innovative, imaginative … Many of today’s students are all that and more in a vast variety of interest areas. This series features students with exceptional and unusual gifts...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Virtual counseling office offers ‘one-stop’ services

The site offers new ways for students to connect, on anything from academic questions to mental health issues...

Pivoting from caretaker to virus tracker

Before Wyoming Public Schools switched to fully remote learning, registered nurse Amy Kamphuis spent the majority of her days tracking COVID-19 data to keep up with positive cases and students and staff who are quarantined...

Babysitting an apple

Ninth-graders wrote apple adventures during the weeklong “35 Ways to Babysit an Apple” project in English teacher Jeremy Schnotala’s class. The writing project inspires creative narratives and lots of drama...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS