Teacher's Lesson Plan:
Environmental Science: Tracking Endangered Animals by Satellite
A lesson on how environmental scientists use satellites to track threatened birds, fish and animals, with an included worksheet
One or many studentsObjectives:
- To become aware that researchers can track threatened birds, fish and animals
- To identify some species which can be tracked by satellite
- To differentiate between visual tracking and radio tracking methods
- To differentiate between tracking on the ground and by satellite
Reading about endangered animals and trackingMaterials:
Class or group discussion about:
- The kinds of birds, fish and animals that are endangered
- Why scientists would want to observe those animals
- The difficulties of observing animals in their natural habitats
- What techniques lend themselves to observation
After discussion and reading, individuals should complete a worksheet
For each student:Procedure:
- Access to the Internet via ISP and web browser
- Access to a world map or globe
- Worksheet (print the worksheet at the bottom of this page)
- Pencils, pens or markers
- Information and pictures of endangered animals at Space Today Online
Have each student:
- Visit Space Today Online at www.spacetoday.org
- Read "How Satellites Track Threatened Birds and Animals" at
For background, see the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species list
and the Congressional Research Service report to Congress
In class or group discussion:
- Differentiate between endangered, threatened, species of concern, and critical habitat designated
- Ask what kinds of birds, fish and animals are endangered?
- Ask why would scientists would want to observe those birds, fish and animals?
- Ask what difficulties might researchers encounter in observing animals in natural habitats?
- Ask how could scientists go about observing animals in natural habitats?
- Ask how would space satellite tracking differ from tracking only on the ground?
Have a student or students show:
- How birds, fish and land animals differ in their habitat
- How radio signals work vs. how visual sighting works
- How satellites have a broad view of earth's geography
- How the anmials are not injured by their transmitters
- How scientists put what they learn to good use in protecting endangered species
Have the students identify the selected species on their worksheets and mark geographic locations on their maps.
Worksheet Name Kind of Animal Location of Animal Other Information Bluefin Tuna Barrows Goldeneye Demoiselle Cranes Tundra Swans Wood Storks Malaysia Elephant Northern Right Whale Porcupine Caribou Sea Turtles West Indian Manatees
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