Electromagnetic Radiation
Quantum and Nuclear | Light, Sound and Waves

Bats make images

Classroom Activity for 14-16 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

Bats see somewhat differently from us – they see with sound. They also actively sense their environment, unlike humans. We see with reflected light but we don't produce that light. Bats build up a picture of their environment with sound that they produce.

This activity explores the source-medium-detector model, and encourages students to use it explicitly.

What to Prepare

What Happens During this Activity

Students read, listen to, or watch the expository media. They should translate what they comprehend into a diagram that explains, in terms of source, medium and detector, how the particular process occurs. You might set up the activity as compare and contrast, by having an environment in the laboratory that is sensed using the student's eyes.

You might also have available other pieces of apparatus which have been used for remote sensing using radiations: from the SPT: Earth in space topic; analogues of ultrasound scanning used elsewhere in your courses; or sonic rulers.

Students should end up with with a diagrammatic account of what the bat is doing in imaging its surroundings, perhaps comparing this with what humans do in constructing the scene they are looking at in the laboratory.

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