Thursday, April 26, 2012

STEM Friday: Poison Dart Frogs

Poison Dart Frogs
written by Lisa Owings
2012 (Bellwether Media)
Source: Orange County Public Library

It's STEM Friday! Check out the science and math links.

I thought my job was hard. It's nothing compared to what Manuelito Maia does in the Colombian rain forest. A member of the Embera tribe, he uses leaves to grab golden poison dart frogs. Manuelito rolls three darts across the frog's back and then lets it go. The "fun fact" explains that it only takes an amount of poison equal to two grains of salt to kill a person. With these darts, the members of the Embera tribe hunt for food.  There are many other cool facts contained in this book. These frogs secrete poison through their skin. Needless to say, there isn't much fear of predators in poison dart frogs. Their bright colors, known as aposematism, keeps predators from being unfortunate enough to try to eat one. The book mentions that snakes would be dead before they could even spit the frog back out. Batrachotoxins are the most powerful toxins on Earth, but the frogs do not produce these themselves. Scientists believe their diet of insects that eat poisonous plants is the reason for the toxins produced. Poison dart frogs are not only dangerous, but helpful as well. Their poison is being used to create muscle relaxers and other medicines.

Not for the squeamish or tender hearted, Poison Dart Frogs is fascinating for those readers (like me) who enjoy reading about exotic animals and their unique features. You could take a paragraph from the informational part of this book and teach students about finding key words (getting the GIST) to help with summarizing. You could also compare the frogs with other animals that use poison for protection or for hunting and create a chart or table.

2 comments:

  1. I love frogs! Especially those bright and shiny (though deadly) guys. I'm interested in learning more about the medicines from frog juice...
    Despite the freeze warning and snow flying through the air, I'm still basking in Global Warming over at Archimedes Notebook. Today I've posted a review of "Waiting for Ice" and interview with author Sandra Markle.
    http://archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com/2012/04/earth-month-book-waiting-for-ice.html

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  2. Wow, snow? Thank you for stopping by, Sue! I'll be heading over to A.N. to see Waiting for Ice.

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