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Weekly Challenge #29 – Teamwork in the Animal Kingdom

April 13, 2014


Biomimicry. Learning from looking at the way nature works.

It’s a fascination of mine, so much so that I created a high school Business Leadership program we offer in schools entitled, “Darwinian Thinking to Teamwork“. You can see an example of the introductory Prezi to that program here.

There is a reason and a time for animals to work in groups just as there is a time and place for them to be solitary. A Gaggle of Canada Geese will travel north at this time of year from sunny Florida to Ontario or Alberta forming the very common “letter V” formation. The goose or geese at the front push against the wind and create an easier flight for the geese behind. I’ve read that the entire flock increases its flight efficiency by about 70% by flying this way rather than alone.

If watching those very geese eating in a corn field or park, you will also notice that a few geese are always on watch. Sentries or sorts – and will alert the rest of the gaggle of any approaching dangers.

Now there will come a time when the gaggle or “team” is no longer needed. When they find a suitable nesting spot, geese will split up into pairs (and often geese nest for life it is said) – at this point the gaggle will not form again until the fall migration necessarily.

Be it a school of fish, a pod of whales, a colony of ants, a herd of cattle or a gaggle of geese – there are reasons why working as a team is successful, just as there is a reason why species work alone occasionally as well. This week I was reminded of the return of the Grebes to our area by my good friend Laurel Fynes . She’s a keen birder and a proponent of students learning outdoors. She sent me a tweet & I then responded;

And this made me think, not for the first time, the enjoyment of learning what different groupings of various species is called. Some seem perfectly named such as an Intrusion of Cockroaches or an Escargatoire of Snails. (How many escargatoire end up in Kindergarten terrariums each year?)

Others seem ominous such as a  Skulk of Foxes, a Murder of Crows or a Descent of Woodpeckers.

Still others seem to make no sense at all like a Bale of Turtles or a Parliament of Owls (owls are supposed to be wise which is not always associated with the average Parliament is it?)

This week, let’s have some fun with the names of different gatherings of species. Share the names of such groups but also have your students research and learn about the benefits of being part of such a group. How can they relate that to their own teamwork in the class or sports? What lessons can be learned by looking at the Kingdom Animalia?

As always, I’m thrilled when you share your findings with me via the blog here or on Twitter!


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