Tim Laman, renowned photographer and forest canopy researcher, and ornithologist Edwin Scholes take us deep into New Guinea to observe the astonishing birds of paradise. Evolved to attract mates with their extraordinarily colorful feathers, which they display in dances executed with ballerina-like grace, these birds are a living laboratory of evolution. Meet all 39 species and enjoy their secret lives, bizarre displays, and dazzling courtship antics in breathtaking visuals.

Use the resources in this collection to prepare your students for their upcoming National Geographic Live! student matinee experience. Use the resources before the show to introduce students to Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes and the topics (birds of paradise, wildlife, adaptation and evolution) that they will discuss during the show. Use the resources after the show to extend the learning. 

Before the Show:

  • Have students review Tim Laman’s and Edwin Scholes’s biographies using the links in the Explore More tab on this page.

  • Download and print the provided map of Papua New Guinea or use the MapMaker Interactive to explore the geography of the area where Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes study birds of paradise.

  • Have students read the adaptation encyclopedic entry and review the The Birds: Adaptations for Attraction section of the Birds-of-Paradise Project Interactive. Lead a class discussion about different kinds of adaptations and invite students to draw examples of the adaptations they read about.

  • Discuss with students whether behaviors are learned or determined genetically, or both, using the Heritable Behaviors activity.

  • Provide each student with a KWL Chart. Introduce the program they will attend and who the speaker is, and offer a brief description of what the speaker’s topic(s) will be. 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 Questions I Have and the right column Answers, and then conduct research about the speaker and speaker 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 a copy of the chart 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 Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes. Distribute the worksheet to students before the presentation and review the directions with them. Review any terms with which they are unfamiliar. 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 speakers presented. Ask: Which continents, countries, or areas does the speaker work in? Have younger students imagine that these places were characters in the stories that Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes shared. Ask: What role did place play in Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes’ 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 Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes 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 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 Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes talk about today? In what ways do Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes demonstrate curiosity, responsibility, empowerment, and persistence in their 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?

a modification of an organism or its parts that makes it more fit for existence. An adaptation is passed from generation to generation.


all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.


study of living things.

bird of paradise

family of birds (Paradisaeidae) mostly native to the jungles on the island of New Guinea.


community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.


change in heritable traits of a population over time.


environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.


study of the biology and behavior of birds.


art and science of producing still or moving images using the chemical reaction of light on a sensitive surface, such as film or an electronic sensor.


a bird's feathers.


area of tall, mostly evergreen trees and a high amount of rainfall.