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Grabbing a Bite to Eat

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Grabbing a Bite to Eat

In this activity, learners perform an experiment that replicates the dilemma faced by birds in acquiring food from a confined area. Learners are given a variety of objects to use as “tools” and explore various ways of extracting the food item from an enclosed shoebox without directly using their hands. Learners compare and contrast which tools worked best and use problem-solving skills to design and develop unique methods for extracting the food item from the shoebox.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • pencils
  • scissors
  • ziploc bags for "food"
  • shoeboxes with lids
  • clay
  • clothespins
  • straws
  • skewers (wooden)
  • tweezers
  • pipe cleaners
  • gum drops
  • dried pasta (spiral or shells)
  • dried red kidney beans
  • dried white lima beans
  • gummi worms


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Evolution
      • Evidence for Evolution
      • Mechanisms of Evolution
      • Human Evolution
    • Human Body
      • The Brain and Nervous System
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Problem Solving

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

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


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Education, Science Friday


  • All Rights Reserved, Science Friday, ©2011


User Lists

This resource is part of these lists:

  • Thumbnail birds by mtmartzke on 2015-01-21
  • Thumbnail Birds by Pkritt68 on 2016-10-24