How can some animals see in the dark?
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DISCUSS:

What do you think is special about nocturnal animal eyes that makes them able to see in the dark? Any ideas?

Hint...

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DISCUSS: Why do you think these animals can see better in the dark than we can?

Eye Comparison

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Optional Extras

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration you just completed.
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Video Activity

Can you identify these nocturnal animals by the sounds they make?

Have your students close their eyes. You will play them a video with the sounds of animals in the woods at night. Their job is to guess what animal is making each sound. We recommend stopping the video after 15 seconds of each sound to give students a chance to guess.

The video is 2-1/2 minutes long and includes six different animals. Ready? Play it here.

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Discussion Challenge

Why can’t I see if there’s absolutely no light?

Challenge your students to use their eye model to answer this question.

Here's our answer.

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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Exploration
dilapidated house by Downtowngal , used under CC BY-SA
manhattan by Leifern , used under CC BY-SA
optical illusion by Edgar Mueller , used under CC BY-ND
for rent sign by Bart Everson , used under CC BY-SA
brain by _DJ_ , used under CC BY-SA
flashlight by Stocksnapper
little girl by ANURAK PONGPATIMET
cat dilated pupils by Andreibanc , used under Public Domain
monster flashlight outside by youshoojump
raccoons in cherry tree by AndrewBrownsword , used under CC BY-SA
old woman by beeboys
racoons peaking out by mountainamoeba , used under CC BY
racoons climbing by hobvias sudoneighm , used under CC BY
camping by Zachary Collier , used under CC BY-SA
family by Michael Bentley , used under CC BY-SA
raccoon by Jinterwas , used under CC BY-SA
pizza by The Pizza Review , used under CC BY-SA
cat by ch2daewong
scientist lab computer by Rhoda Baer , used under Public Domain
brains by Prylarer , used under Public Domain
owl by Hector Bottai , used under CC BY-SA
brain background by Simon , used under Public Domain
deer by harrystilianou002
little girl sleeping by Petra , used under Public Domain
sheep brain by Aaron Bornstein , used under CC BY-SA
surgery by skeeze , used under Public Domain
gears by Libertad , used under Public Domain
lightbulb by Greg Westfall , used under CC BY-SA
eyeballs by Patrick J. Lynch , used under CC BY-SA
eyeballs connected to brain by Pete Linforth , used under Public Domain
ambulance by Canuckle , used under CC BY-SA
green eye by Pedramiri , used under CC BY-SA
business cards by Niek Verlaan , used under Public Domain
iPhone by Hurk , used under Public Domain
nervous system by Chris , used under CC BY-SA
old photograph by Michal Jarmoluk , used under Public Domain
Inside Out by Disney / "fair use" ??
light switch by Martin Cathrae , used under CC BY-SA
door by r. nial bradshaw , used under CC BY
cat's eyes by Takuma Kimura , used under CC BY-SA
owl's eyes by Airwolfhound , used under CC BY-SA
rodents eyes by Arjan Haverkamp , used under CC BY-SA
night sky by Hector Bayes M , used under CC BY-SA
moon by lovecatz , used under CC BY-SA
tarsier by JennyHuang , used under CC BY-SA
tarsier in tree by David Evison
gecko by Megan
Crested Gecko pupil response by JB's Cresties
dog in the dark by Rennett Stowe , used under CC BY-SA
deer at night by lovecatz , used under CC BY-SA
cow at night by Clark
cow eye dissection by Project NEURON , used under CC BY
making tape glow on bike by Hyper Spectrum Reflective
masking tape by TapeCase
making tape glow video by Steve Cole
cat by Andrew Gatt , used under CC BY
dog by Thirteen of Clubs , used under CC BY-SA
crocodile by sodai gomi , used under CC BY
face in dark by Natalie 93
photographer by fedi
red-eye effect humans by PeterPan23
red eyes by Mikael Häggström
Activity
racoons by USFWS Mountain-Prarie , used under CC BY
first face by Konstantin Chagin
second face by pathdoc
pupil response by Hasan Sawan
two lizards by Ltshears , used under CC BY-SA
graphic pencil by JohannPoufPouf , used under Public Domain
Other
Unit: black cat, green eyes by LisaRedfern
Overview
Grade 4th
Topic Human Body, Senses, & The Brain
Focus How Eyes Work
Print
Activity Prep

In this Mystery, students delve further into the workings of the eye, exploring the function of their iris and pupil. In the activity, Pupil Card, students add a smaller pupil to the eye model that they created in Mystery 2. Then they observe how the changing size of the pupil controls how much light enters the eye.

Preview activity

Number of students:
Eye Model from Human Machine Mystery 2
Students need the eye models that they created in the previous Mystery.
Details
30
Markers
Students should use the same color that they used to color the iris in Mystery 2. Crayons or colored pencils also work.
Details
30 markers
Scissors
30 pairs
Pupil Card printout Print 30 copies
Prep Instructions

We suggest students work in pairs. Students need the complete eye model (magnifying lens and the index card “retina”) that they made in Mystery 2. If any students were absent for this activity, you can pair them with someone who has an eye model. Homeschool students can work on their own, but will need a partner for some parts of the activity.

Watch This Quick Video

In the first activity, students will experiment to see how their eyes change in response to changes in the light around them. Watch this video to see the change they are looking for. (You can also watch for this change in your own eyes. Look at your eyes in a mirror in a dark room and watch what happens when you turn on the lights.)

Overview
Grade 4th
Topic Human Body, Senses, & The Brain
Focus How Eyes Work
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