Infrared Zoo Lesson Plans

We are used to seeing the world around us in visible light. However, there are many other types of light, including x-rays, gamma rays, ultraviolet, infrared, microwaves and radio waves, which we cannot see with our eyes. Each of these types of light gives us a unique view of the world around us. Infrared is emitted by any object which has a temperature. Infrared images give us special information that we cannot get from visible light pictures. In these lessons a special thermal infrared camera was used to create infrared images which will be used to help students learn about infrared light. Infrared images of animals and everyday objects will provide students with a unique and interesting view of the infrared world. The Infrared Zoo activities encourage learners to investigate the differences between warm and cold-blooded animals by comparing sets of infrared and visible images. In one activity, learners take on the role of a pit viper seeking prey in various desert and woodland settings. The main activities are extended into the real world by discussing and researching industrial, medical, and societal applications of infrared technologies.

General Background Information for the Instructor
Teachers Guide to the Infrared | Warm and Cold-Blooded | Heat and Temperature

Exploring Infrared Image Technology
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Learners investigate and discuss infrared images of various day-to-day objects like toasters, hairdryers, and running water to learn about infrared imaging technology and infrared images.

Infrared Zoo Lesson 1 - A Trip to the Infrared Zoo
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Using infrared and visible images of animals, learners will sort and categorize animals into broad categories based upon the learner's own reasoning and observations of the images. Further explorations reveal that warm and cold-blooded animals can be identified and characterized using infrared images.

Infrared Zoo Lesson 2 - Dinner in the Dark
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Learners will discover how certain snakes (pit-vipers) can find prey using a natural infrared sensor and will extend their understandings by exploring infrared technology applications.

Infrared Zoo Lesson 3 - The Invisible Zoo
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Learners explore how infrared images give biologists/zoologists detailed information on how warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals thermoregulate.

Why did NASA/SSC Create an Infrared Zoo?


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