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Science Class iPads and Observing and Recording Animal Behavior

Integrating iPads into the science classroom as an aid in research and the scientific method is easily done. For example, science class iPads can be used to help observe and record animal behavior, as shown in this activity which involves the observation of gibbons in a nearby animal reserve.

Observe animal behavior with iPad
Submitted by Sivan Lipman, New Community Jewish High School
Grade level 9th- to 12th-grade science
Objectives Learn the practice and process of studying animal behavior; learn research procedures, including the collection and analysis of data; and recognize different patterns of animal behavior, such as territorial behavior, aggression, courtship rituals, communicative behavior, and so on.
Apps/tools iPad 2 (or higher), note-taking app, Reflection app with Mac laptop or desktop, photography stand(s) for iPads, Numbers app
Materials needed n/a

Students observe gibbons at a reserve near Los Angeles. They start by silently observing the animals, trying to identify at least six common behavior patterns, taking notes and photos to document their observations. As a group, students then discuss and analyze notes, images, and video and agree upon six common behavior patterns. Students then return to the reserve to observe and record the six common behavior patterns.

One of the challenges is that the gibbons are in an environment that isn’t their natural habitat, and the presence of observers tends to inhibit their natural behavior. One possible solution is to use a series of iPads on stands pointed toward the enclosure. With the cameras turned on, students can watch the recordings nearby.

Using the Reflection app on a central MacBook, you can mirror the image of multiple iPads simultaneously on the MacBook screen, enabling students to watch the iPads from a central location. Double-tap the Home button on each iPad, and swipe to the right in the lower multitasking tray to display the quick access controls. Tap the AirPlay button and select your computer to mirror the iPad on your Mac.

You might even consider using QuickTime on the MacBook to record events. Note that the iPads and MacBook would need to be on the same Wi-Fi network. Consider creating your own wireless hotspot, if necessary.

A fantastic optional extra is to broadcast the iPads live on the Internet and invite anyone to watch. Once you have the iPads mirrored on your MacBook, open a Google hangout and display your screen. Anyone you invite to the Google Hangout can observe the gibbons.

It would also be possible to use QuickTime recording on your MacBook screen for an extended period of time, enabling students to return and view activity that occurred in their absence.

Some students will be tasked with recording the data as it occurs, while others control any video recording of the gibbons. The results can later be collated and analyzed.

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