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Bioacoustics is a multidisciplinary field including biology, physics, electronics, engineering, computer science, data science, conservation & resources management. The study of animal sounds can serve as a fun tool for engaging in these scientific studies, and so may serve as a great way for educators to teach scientific topics that is naturally interesting to young students (equivalent to K-12 in U.S.).

What online resources are available for educators to use bioacoustics for one or more of these scientific disciplines? I'm looking for curriculum or educational activities (easy to adopt), not just information.

Please provide brief summary of age group, discipline, etc, to help others identify resources that might be appropriate for their need.

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  • By the way, "K-12" is not widely understood outside the USA, so your answers might arrive mainly from there Jul 23 at 10:46
  • @DanStowell-- thanks-- modified to be more inclusive
    – Shannon
    Jul 25 at 15:21

4 Answers 4

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I have, in the past, played "Bioacoustics Bingo" with K-12 student groups, with positive success and feedback!

The basic approach was that each participant got a bingo card, and then I would go through a powerpoint that showed a spectrogram and played a sound. The kids would then guess what the sound was (this results in lots of fun yelling!) and then after a few guesses or if someone got it right, then I showed the name of the sound, a picture of the animal that makes it, and shared some fun facts about that animal and it's communication. If students had that sound, they could cross off that square. We typically played till "black out" and all squares were filled because students wanted to hear more sounds but you can stop after a single bingo or whenever you have to stop as time allows.

I created the random cards using a the Bingo Card Excel Generator from Matlab's File Exchange but I am sure that could be adapted to R or there are several free generators online (e.g., https://www.canva.com/create/bingo-cards/).

I used a combination of mostly marine mammals sounds with a few man-made sounds like sonar, ships, torpedos, and underwater explosions (to touch on effects of noise pollution). If the kids were old enough, I also included a 100 Hz, 1 kHz, and 10 kHz tonal sound to teach them about frequency, and how different marine mammals vocalize at different frequencies, and if I was using these tones I played them as the first 3 sounds.

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Such a great topic! There are quite a few good resources in bioacoustics out there. A few of them include:

  1. This bioacoustics curricula from NOAA/WHOI
  2. A list of educational resources on the WHOI Sea Grant website (expand "Bioacoustics")
  3. Of course the wonderful activities supplied by DOSITS
  4. A couple of easy DIY hydrophone, and more advanced build your own hydrophone activities.
  5. A set of activities related to the impact of sound on harbour porpoise by DFO
  6. A teaching resource called Shouting Whales put together by Ocean Networks Canada and using killer whales as the focal animal.

Just a few of the great ones out there!

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Through my work with NOAA Southwest Fisheries, I was part of a teacher-scientist curricula development workshop. All curricula are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and hosted on the San Diego County of Education Resource Center:

Kindgergarten: "Dolphins have needs" (echolocation and finding food)

Middle School: "You can recognize different species by the sounds that they make."

High School: "Ocean Noise Pollution Impacts Marine Mammals."

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The Listening to Waves "The Science of Music" website features general acoustics NGSS aligned curricula, and has a fantastic live-scrolling spectrogram tool, which is helpful to teach what 'frequency' is all about

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  • The online live-spectrogram is great indeed! I'm gonna use it for my next class. Thanks.
    – Noil
    Sep 16 at 11:54
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We developed a program called YELLS (Your Ecosystems listening labs) in Purdue University. You can use it freely. Several activities are proposed indoor/outdoors following STEM. Hope this resource can help.

https://edustore.purdue.edu/item.asp?Item_Number=FNR-600-W

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