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Farm Animals by Imran and Nabil

We like to write science fiction stories. Crazy stories like when our positronic brains jump on the space time continuum to alternative universes. When we want to brainstorm new ideas, we go to SciWorks, our hometown science center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Some of our favorite exhibits there are actually about our own planet. We have fun seeing the farm animals in the Barnyard exhibit and wild animals in the Environmental Park. That got us thinking: What makes some farm animals and others not?

What did we do?
We decided to use our ESP-OK, our powers of simple observation-to figure out the answer to our question. So we made of list of simple behaviors to compare farm animals to wild animals: diet, environment, friendliness to people, and usefulness to people. Then we took this list into the barn and kept a scorecard for horses, cows, sheep, and goats. We did the same for the wild animals in the environmental center: deer, ducks, and otters. If the animal demonstrated a behavior that made it a good match for life on a farm, it got a green check. If its behavior wasn't a good match for life on a farm, it got a red check.

What did we find out?
It was really interesting to see that all the farm animals displayed behaviors that made them really handy to have around on farms. They liked to eat grain, they were happy in a barn or a pasture, they were friendly or curious about people, and they typically had something to offer humans-such as milk, wool, or being able to pull a wagon. While the wild animals displayed some of these behaviors, they mostly did not. For example, the otters are carnivores, which makes it more of a chore to feed them. And the deer required a really tall fence to keep them in the environmental park. In the end, we thought if we were able to survey and even wider field of animals, these same observations would be true.

What can you do?
  • If you have a pet cat or dog, you probably know most of its behaviors. Just to remind yourself, watch your pet for a day, and write down the things you see it do: eat, sleep, play, explore; climb, sniff, etc. If you can, go to a zoo where there are large wild cats (tigers or lions), or wild dogs (like wolves). Watch those animals, and make a list of what you see them do. How do their behaviors compare to your pet's?
  • Everyone expects there to be farms for cows, pigs, or chickens. What are some unusual animals that also can be raised on farms? Do research to see if you can find examples of farms for animals you wouldn't expect. Try to find out what it takes to feed, house, and raise those animals. Determine why those animals are farmed as well.
more resources
Go to the DFTV Boards, and tell us about your science investigation.
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