Rationale: To understand the anatomy of a condor and compare size, students will create a life-size representation of a condor.

Time: 1 Day lesson; Approx. 1 hour teaching time

Aligned Standards: NGSS Practices 5 and 8; CCC 6; DCI LS4.C: adaptation

Materials: Butcher paper (10 foot length min.), ruler or tape measure

Biology A - Amazing Anatomy I

Condors in Flight

Instructions

Warm Up: (10 min) Introduce students to condors in flight through images

- Encourage students to guess the size and weight of the birds relative to other items in the images.

1. Begin by projecting a photo of a condor in flight from the “Condors in Flight” photo library.

  • As a class, discuss and share: 

    • what it is, where it lives, what it eats, how it behaves.

  • Have students give evidence for their inferences.

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2. Record observations on a poster board for future reference.

  • Encourage the class to look at the surroundings as well: the land forms in the background, the presence or absence of foliage, other animals, etc.

 

3. Recording Data (10 min)

  • Create a chart to examine the wingspan of each student.

  • Measure each student’s “wingspan,” add in the data, and display the chart in the classroom.

  • CREATE (40 minutes) Divide the students into groups and pass out materials and instructions to measure and draw a scale representation of a turkey vulture, California Condor, juvenile condor, and human. Provide rulers, butcher paper (one 10 ft long sheet for entire project), closeup photos, and the measurement fact sheets to each group. Students work in groups to create the life-size artworks.

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4. Designing your life-sized condor model (10 min)

  • Students (in groups or as a class) are given materials and instructions to measure and draw a scale representation of a condor.

  • Divide the class into 4 groups: Head and Torso, Left Wing, Right Wing, and Feet

    • Hand out rulers, butcher paper(one 10 ft long sheet for entire project), close-up photos and the measurement fact sheets to each of these groups and have them examine the measurements they have been given.

 

5. Creating the model (20–40 min)

  • Students work in groups to draw the difference parts of their condor.

  • Have groups use rulers to measure out length and sketch their body part onto the butcher paper. 

  • Assemble the 4 groups pieces together

    • Have students label body parts and length in feet, inches, etc.

A young condor soaring left to right with rolling hills in the background and a blue sky
A young condor soaring left to right with rolling hills in the background and a blue sky

Young condor 933 soaring behind and dwarfing a juvenile bald eagle
Young condor 933 soaring behind and dwarfing a juvenile bald eagle

An adult condor soars in the distance and the wing tag is not identifiable by even color at the dist
An adult condor soars in the distance and the wing tag is not identifiable by even color at the dist

A young condor soaring left to right with rolling hills in the background and a blue sky
A young condor soaring left to right with rolling hills in the background and a blue sky

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Visual Description Text

In this video over 12 California condors can be seen soaring left to right and right to left as they circle in a thermal above and around the point of view in a cloudless blue sky. Below them is the city of Fillmore, CA in the Santa Clara River valley, and the eastern extent of the San Gabriel mountains. The birds get within about 50 feet of the camera, and can be seen a few thousand feet above as well as all between.

Turkey vulture

Golden eagle

California condor

Models completed by CondorKids students of Kelly Myers at Mountain Vista Elementary School in Fillmore, CA.