Discovering the Role of the Fruit Bat

Summary

Students will learn about the fruit bat, its role in the ecosystem of the American Samoa, and design and play a game about fruit bats.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America the Beautiful Quarters

Objectives

  • Students will learn what a fruit bat is, where it lives, and what role it plays in the American Samoa ecosystem.
  • Students will learn why fruit bats are important to the ecology of American Samoa.
  • Students will design and play their own board game using information learned about fruit bats found in American Samoa.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Science

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts

Grades

  • 3rd
  • 4th
  • 5th

Class Time

  • Sessions: Two
  • Session Length: 30-45 minutes
  • Total Length: 46-90 minutes

Groupings

  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

Students will have a basic knowledge of the following:

  • Tropical rainforest
  • Bats
  • Species
  • Board game
  • Pollination
  • Nectar
  •  

Terms and Concepts

  • Fruit bat
  • American Samoa
  • Habitat
  • Ecosystem
  • Ecology
  • Misconceptions
  • Myths
  • Disperse

Materials

Preparations

  • Bookmark the links above in advance.
  • Make copies of the worksheets about American Samoa.

Worksheets and Files

Lesson Steps

Session One

Essential Questions: What is a fruit bat? Where does it live and what role does it play in the tropical rainforest ecosystem?

  1. Write or project the word "bat" on a dry erase board, chalkboard, and/or an interactive whiteboard. As a warm-up activity, ask students to conduct a word association exercise, and have them write the first three things they think of when they hear the word "bats". Use the left column of the "Myth Busters: Fruit Bats Fact Checker" worksheet, as needed. Guiding questions may include:
    • What do bats look like?
    • Where do they live?
    • What do they do?
    • What sounds do they make?
    • How do you feel about them?
  2. Ask students to share their responses out loud. Write some of their responses around the word "bats" on the board. Responses may include:
    • Bats are small, flying animals.
    • They have large teeth (i.e., fangs) and drink blood.
    • They sleep upside down.
    • They only come out at night.
    • They live in caves.
    • They eat other animals.
    • They are scary.
  3. Explain to students that there are a lot of common misconceptions, or myths, about bats. The goal of today's lesson is to learn more about a particular type of bat, the fruit bat, its key characteristics, and the important role it plays in its ecosystem.
  4. Explain that as part of the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program, the U.S. Mint features national parks and historical sites on quarters that are specific to a state, territory, or district. In 2020, the American Samoa quarter features the National Park of the American Samoa and shows a picture of a Samoan fruit bat mother hanging on at tree with her pup, or baby. The National Park of American Samoa is the only park in the United States that is home to the Samoan fruit bat. Show students a visual of the quarter, including the reverse, found on the U.S. Mint's website: usmint.gov/learn/kids/library/america-the-beautiful-quarters/national-park-of-american-samoa. Ask students to describe what the fruit bat looks like from the picture on the quarter.
  5. Ask students if they have seen a fruit bat before, and if so, when? What was it doing? What time of day was it? Where did it live?
  6. Introduce Samoan fruit bats using the U.S. National Parks of the Pacific Island's video, "Carrying the Future of the Forest" at youtube.com/watch?v=6Sbh9YCt9xU.
  7. After watching the video, ask students what they learned. Responses can include:
    • Fruit bats have a wingspan of three feet.
    • They are active during the day and at night.
    • They hang on tree branches, often by one foot, with wings wrapped around their bodies.
    • Fruit bats are also known as "flying foxes" because of their furry, fox-like face and small pointed ears.
    • They lick nectar from flowers and bite through fruit with their teeth.
    • There are two species of fruit bats found in American Samoa.
    • One species is called "pe'a fanua" or "fruit bat of settled lands" because it often searches for food around villages or farming areas. It has a dark brown face and body with a lighter colored nape – or neck. It forms large, day-time colonies of hundreds of bats. It looks for foot at sunset.
    • The second species is called "pe'a vao" or "fruit bat of the forest" because it searches for food mostly within the rainforest. It has a lighter face and head and prefers to roost individually or in small groups. It looks for food during the day.
    • Fruit bats play an important role in the ecology of the rainforest by dispersing – or spreading - seeds and pollen.
    • Bats disperse seeds by either eating fruits with small whole seeds and releasing them in their droppings or by spitting out larger seeds in pieces of chewed up fruit.
    • Fruit bats cross-pollinate plants by transporting pollen from one flower to another while searching for nectar.
    • Many of these plants depend on fruit bats for pollination and seed dispersal.
    • The biggest threats to fruit bats are strong storms, illegal hunting, and habitat loss.
    • Natural threats, such as hurricanes, cannot be prevented, but human threats can be.
  8. Revisit the word "bats" on the board and the "Myth Busters: Fruit Bats Fact Checker" worksheet. Ask students to recognize if their original thoughts about bats were true or false (i.e., myths). Model to students how to complete the middle and right columns of the worksheet based on the information they learned from the video.
  9. Have students complete the "Myth Busters: Fruit Bats Fact Checker" worksheet. Once students have completed the exercise, have students share out their responses with the whole group.

Session Two

Essential Questions: What are traits of fruit bats? Why are they important to the ecosystem of the American Samoa?   

  1. Review with students what a fruit bat is and what they learned from Session One. Remind students that fruit bats are mammals that play a very important role in the ecosystem.
  2. Tell students that they are going to use the knowledge they learned about fruit bats to create their own board game to play with classmates.
  3. Explain to students Steps #1-6 on how to research, create, and play their own board game about fruit bats.
    • Step 1: Conduct Research: Guide students to find out more information about fruit bats, including their habitat (or where they live), their appetite (what they eat), their role (what they do), appearance (what they look like) and why they are important (what's their role). If needed, use the "Fruit Bat Research: Graphic Organizer" worksheet as a guide to help students conduct their research. Additional resources on fruit bats can be found on the NPS website:
    • Step 2: Write Questions: Using the research completed in Step 1, have each student draft 4-8 questions with one to two-word answers about fruit bats. Examples of questions and answers include:
      • Question: What do fruit bats eat? Answer: fruit
      • Question: What type of animal are fruit bats? Answer: mammals
      • Question: When do fruit bats look for food? Answer: day and night
    • Step 3: Create Cards: Pass out an even number of the two different "Fruit Bat Game Cards" worksheets, one with the obverse or "heads" of the 2020 the American Samoa quarter (i.e., George Washington), and the other featuring the reverse or "tails" of the 2020 American Samoa quarter (i.e., Samoan fruit bat). Have students cut out the cards on the worksheet. On the backside of the card (i.e., with the coin design is on the opposite side), have students write their questions and answers. Once students have completed the cards, collect the sets (grouped via rubber band, paperclip, or sandwich bag) from each student.
    • Step 4: Create the Board: Assign students in pairs. Model for them how to create a game board using the "Fruit Bat Game Board" worksheet as a guide. Have students include a "Start" and "End" point and designate most of the game spaces as either "heads" or "tails". This will indicate what card deck to choose from. Allow students to add in additional "fun" spaces, including "Go back 2 spaces" or "Jump ahead 3 spaces" or "Lose a turn" or "Roll again", etc.
    • Step 5: Explain Game Play: Pass out the decks of cards, ensuring that each pair of students have opposite cards (i.e., one "heads" deck and one "tails" deck). Have each student choose a game piece (i.e., a small classroom object). Students will take turns rolling a die and will move that number of spaces on the board. The student that rolls the higher number goes first. If they land on a "heads" or "tails" spot, the other player picks up that card that matches that space. They ask the other player the question on the card. If that player can answer the question correctly, they are able to roll again. If they answer it incorrectly, they lose their turn.
    • Step 6: Game time! Let students play the game and answer the questions. If they finish early, allow them to come up with more challenging questions or switch the decks of cards with another team.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Group students together during the research phase.
  • Have students present their research and written response orally.
  • Allow students to use a scribe or computer to complete the graphic organizer, research, and/or questions. 

Enrichments/Extensions

  • Have students research another animal that is native to the American Samoa and research key facts about the animal, including the name, habitat, etc.
  • Have students create another board game and/or research more questions about the Samoan fruit bat and/or other types of animals that are of interest to them.
  • Have the winner of each game play a winner of the other game and keep playing until one student wins.
  • Have students team up to create a large game and take turns reading cards.

Assess

  • Evaluate the research, ability to answer questions, and students' participation to assess how well the students have met the lesson objectives.

Integrated Standards

American Samoa Department of Education: Science Content Standards

Earth and Space Science

Grade 3:

  • 6.4: Examine human impacts on the environment

Grade 4:

  • 6.2: Explore how limited supplies of natural resources affect human activity and how human activities affect the environment

Grade 5:

  • 5.2: Analyze the components and interactions of the Earth system

Life Science

Grade 3:

  • 8.2: Describe organisms' relationships in ecosystems

Grade 4:

  • 7.1: Investigate the different structures and functions of both plants and animals
  • 7.2 Observe and describe life cycles and reproduction of plants and animals
  • 8.1: Describe ecosystems and explore the relationships between living and non-living things in an ecosystem
  • 8.2: Explore how plans and animals obtain their food through relationships within food webs in an ecosystem
  • 8.3: Examine factors that influence the stability of ecosystems

Grade 5:

  • 7.1: Explore how plants and animals have certain structures and behaviors that enable them to respond to changes in the environment and meet their basic needs
  • 8.1: Describe types of interactions among organisms
  • 8.2: Analyze how ecosystems change over extended time periods
  • 9.3: Defend the value of maintaining biodiversity on Earth