10th September 2004 at 01:00

Pupils should be taught to ask questions that can be answered scientifically and decide how to find answers; they should learn how plants and animals in two habitats are suited to their environments; and use food chains to show feeding relationships. Ask them to compare a local habitat with one from The Future is Wild; to look at the adaptations of animals and plants to where they live; their place in the food chain; the role of green plants as producers of food; and the ways that the habitat has changed and is changing.


Students should learn that habitats support a diversity of interdependent plants and animals; about food webs composed of several food chains, and how food chains can be quantified using pyramids of numbers. Tell them that:

* The Future is Wild is predictive; it foretells one possible future.

* It assumes humans are extinct - not implausible; there have been past mass extinctions.

* It is not "science fiction". It is a work of informed imagination.

* It does not break the laws of science.

* Scientists first extrapolated current geographical trends, then likely future climates, and finally the effects on plant and animal life.

* It is only one possible future; there are many others.

Use the website or DVDs to look at one habitat; eg watch the sequence that features creatures in five million years' time, including the fire-resistant rattleback, the intelligent Babookari monkeys and the predatory carakiller birds. Ask students to discuss and predict what might happen if:

* a change in the river conditions wipes out all the fish;

* a bushfire drives away all the Babookari;

* rattlebacks learn how to raid the Babookari fish traps;

* a new predator arrives that can hunt and kill Carakillers.

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