Rhino Senses

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SUBJECTS

life sciences,
physical sciences,
language arts



GRADES

2-8



CONCEPTS

senses of hearing
and smell as
adaptations



DURATION

one or two
class periods




[graphic]

text link

[definition]

graphic link


You may print this activity
for educational use.

Objective

Before their visit, students will learn about ... their abilities to respond to sounds and smells.

Background Information

Rhinos [graphic] have terrible eyesight. But they make up for it with a great sense of hearing and sense of smell. Along with its nose, a rhino's ears keep it informed of which animals are coming, which are going, and if humans are nearby. Pivoting like a sonar dish listening for enemy sounds, the cup-shaped ears collect and funnel sounds to the inner ear, which sends nerve [definiti
on] impulses to the brain [definition] for interpretation.

Sounds a rhino might hear that cause alarm are the squeaking of a calf in distress or the alarm calls of birds. Reassuring sounds the rhino might hear are the pant of a nearby rhino calf.

The rhino's nose is a powerful smell receptor. In the roof of each nasal cavity is a button-sized patch of cells. In each patch, millions of tall, slim cells are clustered together. Some of the cells sense scents. When chemical molecules drift into the nose, they stimulate these smell receptors, which send impulses to the brain. The brain interprets the impulses as smells.

This activity gives your students a closer look at how ears and noses work to provide clues to what's around them.

Activity 1

Materials

  • None.

QUESTIONS TO BEGIN


Why do we have the sense of hearing?

How is it useful?

Procedure

RHINO EARS

  1. In the classroom have each student listen carefully to the sounds around him or her. Have each student record the sounds that he or she hears.
  2. Have students cup their hands behind their ears to increase their sound collecting abilities.
  3. Have them listen quietly to the sounds around them again.
  4. Have them record what they hear.
  5. Have your students try changing the shape of their cupped hands. What seems to make the surrounding sounds louder? Have them record the differences.
  6. Have your students try opening their mouths slightly with their ears cupped. Does this help? Have them record the differences.
  7. Try the same activity outdoors. Have students record what they hear.

QUESTIONS TO CLOSE

Did your hearing ability change when you cupped your hands over your ears? Did you hear the same sounds or more sounds? Were the sounds louder or quieter?

How important is a good sense of hearing? Do you think its more important to some animals than others? Why?

Which animals have a good sense of hearing? Where do they live? How do they use that sense?

Adapted from

Duensing, E. and A. B. Millmass. Backyard and Beyond. Golden, CO, Fulcrum Publishing, 1992.

Additional Sources

Estes, Richard Despard. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals. Berkeley, CA: The University of California Press, 1992.



Activity 2

Materials

  • Film canisters.
  • A pin to make holes in the canister tops.
  • Cotton balls.
  • Scents: vanilla extract, chocolate, coffee, various spices, orange peel, or any other object with a scent.

QUESTIONS TO BEGIN


Why do we have a sense of smell?

How is it useful?

Procedure

RHINO NOSE

  1. Put scented objects into the canisters. To use extracts, put a drop on a cotton ball and place inside the canister. Poke holes in the lid of the canister.
  2. Tell the children that they are going to be smelling a hidden object. Ask them not to talk and definitely not to say aloud what they think they are smelling.
  3. Take one canister and allow each child a turn to smell it.
  4. Ask the children to describe the smell without telling what it is. After each child has the chance to come up with his/her own description, ask the students if the smell was sweet or sour, heavy or light, and strong or faint. Ask them to come up wi th their own descriptive paired words. Ask them to describe how the smell makes them feel.
  5. Ask the students what the smell reminded them of. Allow them to guess at what the object actually was.
  6. Go through the same process with each of the other smells.

QUESTIONS TO CLOSE

Did your hearing ability change when you cupped your hands over your ears? Did you hear the same sounds or more sounds? Were the sounds louder or quieter?

How important is a good sense of hearing? Do you think it's more important to some animals than others? Why?

Which animals have a good sense of hearing? Where do they live? How do they use that sense?

Adapted from

Duensing, E. and A. B. Millmass. Backyard and Beyond. Golden, CO, Fulcrum Publishing, 1992.

Additional Sources

Estes, Richard Despard. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals. Berkeley, CA: The University of California Press, 1992.