science education resource

Surviving Hibernation - It's a BEAR!

To view these resources with no ads, please Login or Subscribe to help support our content development.

School subscriptions can access more than 175 downloadable unit bundles in our store for free (a value of $1,500).

District subscriptions provide huge group discounts for their schools. Email for a quote:

Bear hibernating
Everyone grows up learning that bears experience some kind of hibernation in the winter. Yet, what does that mean? We know that many animals hibernate or go into torpor in the winter when food is scarce. Bears, in particular, can sleep for more than six months in the winter without eating, drinking, urinating, defecating or moving very much. They lose much of their body's fat storage but otherwise seem able to wake up and start eating as if its just been a long night's rest. If a human tried to do that, we would lose much of our muscle and bone mass, as anyone with a long term illness can atest. So how do bears do it?
Researchers in Denmark are studying how bear hibernation physiology allows them to be immobile so long without damaging their bodies. This could potentially help researchers figure out how to preserve bone and muscles mass for people living in low gravity in space or through forced immobile because of illness or injury. What they found was fascinating.
We now know that through our DNA, we are constantly making proteins that run all our body functions (protein synthesis). This is true in humans and it is true in bears. However, researchers found that in hibernating bears, their protein synthesis changes. They produced fewer proteins that have more generalized jobs and those proteins stayed active longer, both of which save energy. They also found that the proteins coded for metabolizing fat increased, so the energy that the bears did need came from their stored fat supplies and not from breaking down muscle and bone.
It will be interesting to see how researchers use this new understanding of hibernation in adapting it for humans. How cool would it be if studying bears helps us develop hyper sleep for space travel?!

To read more about this off site, go to our resource from Science Daily: LINK

From: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)

Intergrate this Lesson with NGSS:

Essential Questions:

1) How does bear physiology adapt to long months of hibernation?

2) How could understanding this physiology help human health?


Using Discoveries and Inventions as Scientific Phenomena to Integrate with NGSS:

Scientific Phenomena can be used as a tool to anchor a science unit involving a series of lessons to engage in deeper science learning – or what is being called “Three Dimensional Learning”.

1) Describe the phenomena in a way that your students can understand and which sparks their imagination.

2) Create Essential Questions for them to answer to explain the phenomena.

3) Identify the NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas which you are targeting.

4) Provide clear directions for a process they should use to try to answer the questions using the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices to frame as your guideline.

5) Name the Crosscutting Concepts that students should be aware of throughout the lesson.

6) Discuss the Connections to Nature of Science.

7) Make note of other questions generated in the process of exploring this Scientific Phenomena.


Disciplinary Core Ideas

LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems: LINK
• Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors. (MS-LS2-1)
• In any ecosystem, organisms and populations with similar requirements for food, water, oxygen, or other resources may compete with each other for limited resources, access to which consequently constrains their growth and reproduction. (MS-LS2-1)
• Growth of organisms and population increases are limited by access to resources. (MS-LS2-1)
• Similarly, predatory interactions may reduce the number of organisms or eliminate whole populations of organisms. Mutually beneficial interactions, in contrast, may become so interdependent that each organism requires the other for survival. Although the species involved in these competitive, predatory, and mutually beneficial interactions vary across ecosystems, the patterns of interactions of organisms with their environments, both living and nonliving, are shared. (MS-LS2-2) has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.