Danielle Lee is on a quest to understand how animals make a living. Because she specializes in rodents, her work takes her everywhere. She’s studied African giant pouched rats that can sniff out landmines in Tanzania, and the ecology of alleys where rats live in urban environments. Students will be inspired to learn that there's an unexplored wildness even in cities, and plenty of important science to do right in their backyards.
Use the resources in this collection to prepare your students for their upcoming National Geographic Live student matinee experience. Use the “Before the show” ideas to introduce students to Daniel Lee and the topics (animals, STEM, biology, technology) that she will discuss during the show. Use the “After the show” ideas to extend the learning after the event has ended.
Before the Show
Have students review Danielle Lee’s biography using the links in the Explore More tab.
Have students read the ecology” encyclopedic entry. Lead a class discussion about different kinds of ecology. After reading, ask: How are different types of ecology (landscape, population, behavioral) connected to one another? What skills and attitudes does an ecologist need to excel at their job?
Watch the video Finding Landmines Using Pouched Rats, a short TED Talk by Danielle Lee, to learn more about how African giant pouched rats are being used to locate land mines.
Engage students in observation and recording techniques with the idea set Finding Urban Nature. Choose an idea that best fits your students or break them up into groups and assign each team a different project and have them report back to the class.
Have students read Danielle Lee’s blog post on Scientific American titled “FAQ: What’s a Typical Day Like for You? #DNLeeLab Version” or “FAQ: Why Do You Wear Gloves When Handling Pouched Rats?” After the activity, ask students to write some questions they would like to ask Danielle.
Provide each student with a KWL Chart. Introduce the program they will attend and, who the speaker is, and offer a brief description of the speaker’s topic(s). Have students fill out the What I Know and What I Want to Know columns of the KWL Chart. Have them fill out the What I Learned column after the show.
Use the graphic organizer collection to select a graphic organizer to help your students organize their questions and new knowledge before, during, and after the program. For example:
Download and print the T Chart. Have students label the left column with Questions I Have and the right column with Answers, and then conduct research about the speaker and their topic ahead of the program. Have students record answers to their questions during or after the program. Have students conduct research to complete any unanswered questions for homework. Have each student share a question and answer with the class.
Download and print the provided Five Ws Chart. Have each student bring their copy to the matinee program and take notes. Have students share and discuss their notes after the show.
After the Show
Use the Explorer Comparisons worksheet and have a class discussion to help students make connections between themselves and Danielle Lee. Distribute the worksheet to students before the presentation and review the directions with them. Review any terms with which that they are unfamiliar with. After the presentation, have students share the notes that they took during the show. Have a class discussion about attitudes and skills and how students demonstrate them in their everyday lives. Have students record their personal examples on the worksheet.
Review the continents, countries, or areas that the speaker presented. Ask: What continents, countries, or areas does the speaker work in? Have younger students imagine that these places were characters in the stories that Danielle Lee shared. Ask: What role did place play in Danielle Lee’s story? Why was location important to the story? How did the characteristics of the place influence the story? Note: You may need to introduce the concept of place for your students before they can answer and discuss these questions.
Discuss and define any unfamiliar terminology that the speaker used. Ask: What vocabulary words did Danielle Lee use that were new to you? Invite volunteers to write the words on the board, and have the class define them as a group using the information they learned from the speaker or through research. If desired, have students record unfamiliar terminology during the show on one-half of a T Chart. Then, have them write the definitions on the other side following this class discussion.
Have a class discussion about the attitudes National Geographic explorers embody. Ask: What attitudes did Danielle Lee talk about today? In what ways does Danielle Lee demonstrate curiosity, responsibility, empowerment, and persistence in his work? Why do you think these attitudes are important for explorers? Students can use their Five Ws Chart for reference and a graphic organizer to organize their ideas.
Have a whole-class brainstorm on how students can make changes or support the speakers’ work. Ask: What, if any, call to action did the speakers make? How can you implement any changes in your day-to-day life? What can we work on together as a group?
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry behavior Noun
anything an organism does involving action or response to stimulation.
behavioral ecology Noun
the study of the different ways organisms adapt their behavior to suit their environment.
study of living things.
(web log) website that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.
management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.
Encyclopedic Entry: conservation ecology Noun
branch of biology that studies the relationship between living organisms and their environment.
Encyclopedic Entry: ecology genetics Noun
the study of heredity, or how characteristics are passed down from one generation to the next.
environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.
Encyclopedic Entry: habitat land mine Noun
small explosive device hidden just under the surface of the Earth.
landscape ecology Noun
the study of spatial distributions and patterns of organisms across large geographical areas.
animal with hair that gives birth to live offspring. Female mammals produce milk to feed their offspring.
wide area of grassland.
population ecology Noun
the study of what contributes to the rise and fall of numbers of a species.
group of similar organisms that can reproduce with each other.