In July of this year, Google collaborated with Explore.org to offer “Bear Livecams” in Google Earth. If you are a fan of live video feeds and like to use them to engage your students in learning, then your class will definitely have to check out the Alaskan brown bear livecams. Watching the bears eat, play, and hang out underwater at Katmai National Park is such an incredible experience.
Five Brown Bear Livecams
When you go to Google Earth’s storytelling platform Voyager, you will find five livecams.
1.Brooks Falls – This camera is located at Brooks Falls, Alaska. On this livecam, watch the hungry bears wait in the river near the waterfall for their next meal. They search for the best fishing spot as they dine on salmon.
2. Lower River – This camera is located where the Brooks River gently flows into Naknek Lake. On this livecam, watch female brown bears and their cubs play, rest, and practice the skills they will need to hunt for themselves one day.
3. River Watch – This camera scans a vast amount of the Brooks River. On this livecam, watch the bears and their cubs from afar as they sit in the river. As they come out of the riverbanks, you can often see them begin to play.
4. Underwater – This camera is, of course, located underwater in the Brooks River. On this livecam, watch the bears employ a variety of hunting techniques, including simply sitting on the river floor and waiting for a fish to swim by. Also watch them try to “snorkel,” or swim on the surface while submerging their heads to look for fish.
5. Dumpling Mountain – This camera is located up in the clouds on Dumpling Mountain. On this livecam, you can see all of Brooks Camp and the surrounding country stretching out in front of you. On a clear day, you can spot the active volcanoes bordering the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.
Below are a few lesson ideas that you can incorporate in the classroom.
- Encourage students to use Google Keep to take notes on the daily activities of the bears. They could then create a timeline of these activities using Google Drawings.
- Have students present using Google Slides about volcanic eruptions, including the world’s largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century, which occurred at Katmai National Park.
- Have students create and print 3D models replicating what they see on the livecams.
- Assign students to use Google Scholar to research the brown bears of Alaska and then write a paper in Google Docs.
- Use the activities occurring in the livecams as writing prompts to have students practice their inference skills about things they are seeing.
More Classroom Connections
- Explore the terrain of at Katmai National Park and Preserve using Google Maps as a whole class activity.
- Invite a geologist to talk about the significance of wildlife at national parks and have a Google Hangout with him.
- Let students use Google Drawings to create a comic strip about how many salmon bears eat in a day.
- Have a discussion in Google Classroom about the way mama bears teach their cubs survival instincts and the lessons we can learn from them.
- Create a Google Form to record daily logs about the bears’ activities.
- Use green screen technology or a webcam to have students record a story they created using stick bear puppet figures.
Bear Cams in the Classroom
These are just a few ideas for how to use the live Bear Cams in your classroom. If you watch live webcams in the classroom, please share in the comments below which ones you watched and how you incorporated them into lessons.
All photos used in this blog post appear courtesy of Google, Explore.org, and Katmai National Park, Alaska.