To Survive Poachers, Many African Elephants Born Tuskless

Contributor
Daksha Rangan
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Phenomenon
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

 

The phenomenon of tuskless elephants can lead students to figure out many scientific concepts including:  natural selection, adaptation, genetics, ecology, and human impact.  This short video introduces tusklessness (due to poaching) and would allow the teacher the opportunity to drive the instruction of the class to address one or more of several different performance expectations.  Driving questions for tusklessness could include:

  • How could the ivory trade cause elephants to be born tuskless?

  • Does it matter if elephants don’t have tusks?

  • Aren’t all elephants born without tusks? Don’t they just eventually grow?

  • Were tuskless elephants born before poaching became a problem?

Intended Audience

Learner
Educational Level
  • High School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

HS-LS4-4 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using data to provide evidence for how specific biotic and abiotic differences in ecosystems (such as ranges of seasonal temperature, long-term climate change, acidity, light, geographic barriers, or evolution of other organisms) contribute to a change in gene frequency over time, leading to adaptation of populations.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This phenomena could help to build student understandings of this performance expectation as it shows how a population can change over time. As students develop an understanding about natural selection and adaptation, they will also come to the conclusion that this particular adaptation did not happen because it offered elephants a competitive advantage for life in its natural environment, but was due to human activity.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students will watch the video and then be encouraged to ask questions about what is going on with the elephants. This could be done using an observation/question chart or a driving question board. This phenomenon could engage students to figure out several different science concepts, including genetics, natural selection, human impact, and adaptation.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource was not designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Most students know that elephants have tusks, but they may not be aware that some elephants carry a gene for tusklessness. Using the phenomenon, students can figure out how this trait (considered advantageous) has been gradually increasing over time. Students can be led to discover how humans have indirectly played a role in natural selection leading to an adaptation that could be detrimental to the population. It is considered detrimental because females want a mate with tusks and also for protection and foraging. Researchers are not sure how detrimental it will be. It is increasing because of humans poaching the ones with tusks before they had time to reproduce.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
As students start to figure out this phenomenon using scientific reasoning, they will need to analyze several pieces of information in order to determine cause and effect relationships. This phenomena will lend itself to looking at data that will show both correlation and causation. As students reason though this information they will build understanding and use it in order to argue from evidence and construct an explanation.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: - none -

  • Instructional Supports: - none -

  • Monitoring Student Progress: - none -

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -