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In this outdoor activity/game, learners use thermometers to simulate how lizards survive in habitats with extreme temperatures. Learners are challenged to keep their thermometer-lizard "alive" by keeping its temperature within a five-degree safe range. While regulating their pretend lizards' temperatures, learners must move the lizards through a course of sun and shade, trying to reach the finish first. Through the game and followup discussion, learners come to understand different ways that exotherms, or "cold-blooded" animals, regulate their body temperatures and how they differ from endotherms, or "warm-blooded" animals, such as humans. Activity must be done on a warm, sunny day in a site with areas of deep shade, bright sun, and broken or partial shade.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Game, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Celsius thermometers
  • one-meter lengths of string
  • flagging on small sticks or dowels
  • masking tape
  • watch with second hand
  • 8-meter length or rope or string


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Populations
    • Evolution
      • Evidence for Evolution
    • Human Body
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Rate
    • Number and Operations
      • Operations
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Games
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Regents of the University of California, 1980