Rationale: To understand the anatomy of a condor and its adaptations for flight, students will create condor paper airplanes.

Time: 1 Day lesson; Approx. 30 minute teaching time

Aligned Standards: NGSS Practices 2 and 3; CCC 2; DCI LS4.C: adaptation

Materials: Scissors, condor plane worksheet

Biology C

1. EXPLORE (15 minutes)

Warm up: Watch the Soaring Condors, Seagulls Flapping, and Different Birds in Flight videos.

Discuss the different ways birds fly from observations in the videos. Be sure to discuss adaptations for soaring vs. flapping. Students fold and fly their condor paper planes.


The teacher facilitates conversations with students asking questions such as:

• Which type of flight uses more energy: soaring or flapping?

• What can you infer from the condor’s wing size?

• What can you infer about flight from the density of the condor’s bones?


2. JOURNAL (20 minutes)

Students answer the questions above about condor flight adaptations in their journals. Discuss as a class the various flight adaptations explored in the previous lessons: wings, bones, and size.


Many of the flyers will fail. With the knowledge gained in previous lessons, have the students engineer better flyer designs in their journals, build them, and test new models.

Various birds in Flight

Seagulls Flying

Condors in Flight

Soaring Condors

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