Seeing with Sound -
Information for Teachers
to introduction page
Biological sonar, or "echolocation", is a major alternative image-formation system to vision. It is possessed by over 700 species of bat, dozens of dolphins and porpoise species, a few bird species, and possibly some species of shrews, seals and larger toothed whales.
It is difficult for us, as visual creatures, to grasp the idea of 'seeing with sound'. It is also very unusual for us to think of a sensory system that is 'active'. Having an 'active' sense means that an animal's perceptions of its environment depend on the pulse of sound energy that it broadcasts - animals cannot passively echolocate.
Young science students can be introduced to the hidden world of biological sonar by this on-line interactive resource. The study of biological sonar covers topics relevant to science key stages 2 and 3 of the (U.K.) National Curriculum, including waves, sound, vision and hearing. Furthermore, the resource includes numerous activities, otherwise known as games, which facilitate and stimulate investigative learning. You will find resources here ideal for short science projects (e.g. one afternoon). Intriguing and thought-provoking subject matter will be combined with interactive activities to provide potential for learning about these fascinating creatures, about their unique sense of biological sonar, and about the nature of scientific investigation.
Exploration of the subject and experimentation / investigation will be possible on-line. Suggestions will also be made for follow-up activities to be carried out later, in the classroom.