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Crow Smarts

Crow Smarts

Introduction

As we learn more and more about all the animals that make up our world, we are discovering that traits we once thought belonged to just humans are found among other species. In Crow Smarts, we learn about how the New Caledonian crows make and use tools to help hunt for food. Use the resources on this sheet to help you learn more about these crows.


Exploration

To see how crows can use tools to get grubs, you should watch Are Crows the Ultimate Problem Solvers? from BBC Two. As you watch this video, answer these questions on your Crow Smarts student sheet.

  • Who is 007 and why is Alex interested in him?
  • What is different for 007 about this experimental set-up?
  • How many steps are there in the puzzle?
  • What is 007’s first move?
  • Stage 1 involves what object?
  • What does 007 discover about the first object?
  • What does 007 do next?
  • There is a turning point in the 007’s behavior when he appears to understand moving all stones to the box will produce an effect that will help him get the food. Describe the behavior you see at this turning point moment.
  • What might a scientist call this moment?
  • What happens when all the stones are moved into the box, and why how does it solve 007’s problem?
  • Planning is considered an advanced form of thinking. Have you ever had an experience in which it was clear to you that an animal—your pet, or a crow you were watching—was planning?
  • What is your evidence for your conclusion that the animal was planning?

Now go to Crow Smarts: Crows Using Tools in the Wild. Click on and watch the "Crow Versus Grub" video. Answer these questions on your student sheet:

  • What are some comments the 007 researcher, Alex, might make about the video we just watched?
  • What are some of the steps involved in tool-using and tool-making?
  • Is the sequence of steps important? Why or why not?
  • If you wanted to recreate the set-up seen in the wild in a lab to test 10 crows, what would you need? One log? Leaves—wet or dry? What kind? What kinds of sticks? Or are leaf stems sufficient? A food reward?

After you've discussed the Crow Versus Grub video, you should watch "Dr. Gavin Hunt Explains," also on the Crow Smarts: Crows Using Tools in the Wild site. Once you've watched this, your teacher will talk about how you as a class could replicate this process using the plants around you:

  • Would a corn leaf be a good substitute?
  • How about a maple leaf? A blade of grass?
  • Why or why not?

This esheet is a part of the Crow Smarts lesson.

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Esheet Details

Grades Project 2061 Benchmarks National Science Standards
AAAS