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Echolocation Activities & Games for Kids

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Learning about echolocation lends itself to other topics like animals and sound waves. This series of games and activities will teach younger students about echolocation by using fun, hands-on teaching methods.

Learning About Echolocation

Learning about echolocation, or how certain animals use sound to locate objects, can be a fun topic that lends itself to several activities and games. This series of hands-on activities and games is designed for younger students and allows them to explore a complex topic in a fun, hands-on way.

Bat vs. Moth

This game demonstrates echolocation in bats and requires that the entire class work together, with different students performing different tasks.

Materials

  • A long rope to make a boundary
  • Bat blindfolds
  • Moth blindfolds
  • Tree signs
    • Alternative: Students can also make masks that cover their faces (bat and moth masks).

Game Instructions

  • Teacher tip: go over safety rules first. For example: no running, no pushing or shoving and, when the teacher says 'stop,' everyone must stop.
  • Have four students volunteer to be 'food' and two students volunteer to be humans.
  • Have the humans 'capture' the food (by tagging them).
  • Take a moment to brainstorm how the humans found the food (through sight, sound, etc.).
    • Now divide the class into trees, moths and bats.
    • For a class of 30: 17 students should be trees, 10 students should be moths and 3 students should be bats.
  • The rules for this game are as follows:
    • The trees will form a boundary circle. They can hold a rope to enclose the bats and moths. The bats and moths must stay within the circle. The moths and bats will wear blindfolds (or masks).
    • When the teacher says 'go,' the blindfolded bats and moths will start walking around within the circle.
    • The bats will make a squeaking noise. The trees and moths must reply to the squeaking noise. For example, when the bat squeaks, a nearby tree must say 'tree' and the moth must say 'moth.' This will represent the echolocation. The bats should use this information to avoid hitting trees as well as to find the moths.
    • Once a moth is tagged by a bat, it is 'eaten' and becomes one of the trees.
  • After the game, discuss echolocation and compare/contrast how the student bats hunted to actual echolocation.
  • For fun, you can repeat this activity but assign the students different roles.

Waves

This activity uses water waves to show students how waves behave when they bump into something.

Materials

  • Bowls/trays filled with water
  • Floating object to place into the bowl of water (a toothpick broken into pieces works well).
  • Object to create ripples. Suggestions: a small pebble, or water dropper filled with water.

Activity Instructions

  • Place the floating objects into the bowl of water.
  • Drop a pebble in the bowl to create waves or use the water dropper to add water droplets to create ripples.
  • Observe what happens when the waves hit the floating object.
  • After students play with this for a bit, tell students that sound waves behave in the much the same way.
  • Tell them animals that use echolocation emit a sound, and when that sound hits an object, it bounces back and the animal can detect the object.
  • Have students create an image to depict this.

Ball Echolocation

This game uses a giant beach ball to demonstrate echolocation.

Materials

  • At least one beach ball (or other large, soft, air-filled balls)
  • Blindfold
  • Desk (or other large object for students to find)

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