Learning resources

Hello, teachers and caregivers! Looking for ways to extend your students’ learning after reading MYSTERIOUS GLOWING MAMMALS? Here are some ideas. And if you have ideas of your own, I’d love to hear about them. Get in touch!

Discussion Questions

As a class or in small groups, discuss answers to the following questions. (These can also be assigned as writing prompts. In written answers, students should cite examples from the text that support their answers.) These questions are based on concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards for grades 4-8.

  • What questions did the scientists in the story ask, and why? How did they plan and carry out their investigations? What kind of data did they collect?
  • How did the scientists in the story work as a team? How did their teamwork advance their investigation?
  • How would you describe the scientists in the story? What kinds of character traits did they display during their scientific investigation? How do you think those traits helped them succeed?
  • Why is it important for a scientist to be both curious and skeptical? Can you think of other jobs that benefit from both of those traits?

    Field Museum activities

    The scientists in MYSTERIOUS GLOWING MAMMALS conducted much of their research at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois. The Field Museum offers a wide variety of free learning materials, many of which can be done in the classroom or at home. The activities I’ve listed below connect especially well to concepts in my book. All can be found at this website. Or click the activity links below to automatically open up that activity’s PDF.

    These activities will get young people participating in what Erik Olson calls “discovery science,” which means getting out into the natural world, making observations, and asking questions:

    • Animal Observations: Encourage kids to observe animals closely and give them practice collecting and analyzing data.
    • In Your Backyard: Go outside and use this guide to search for reptiles and amphibians!
    • Life All Over: Play nature bingo! (This activity focuses on seeking out nature in urban settings.)

    These activities focus on fascinating animal traits and relationships between species:

    • Mammal Phylogeny video and lesson: Learn about how scientists create animal “family trees” and where mammals fit into that tree.
    • Spot the Animal: Explore different types of animal camouflage!
    • Wheel of Function: Investigate how one particular trait–the color blue–helps a variety of animals survive in their environments.

    These activities get kids thinking about museum collections and how they can help scientists make discoveries:

    • At Home Collections: Challenge students to transform one of their collections into a scientific resource! Students will learn about how the Field Museum organizes its specimens, then use those principles to organize the own collection. This can be done with nature collections (rocks, feathers, shells), but it will work just as well with stuffies and Pokemon cards.
    • Zoological Collections: This isn’t an activity, but a link to the Field Museum’s online zoological collections. Challenge students to search the collections to find specimens of a certain species and to discover what kind of information the museum collects about each one. For example, you could look up the genus Glaucomys to see records for the same flying squirrel specimens that Team Biofluorescent examined.

    The following videos are from the Field Museum’s “Brain Scoop” series. Each one will give you and your students an entertaining and tantalizing sneak peek into the museum’s collections:

    • Glow Rocks: Learn about fluorescence in non-living objects: rocks and minerals!
    • What is a species? It’s more complicated than you think.
    • Where’d you get all those dead animals? Should scientists continue collecting dead animals for museum collections? This video will get your students thinking about an important ethical question in the science world today.