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A chameleon climbs a branch in this file photo.Juda Ngwenya/Reuters

Let’s Talk Science and the Royal Society of Canada have partnered to provide Globe and Mail readers with relevant coverage about issues that affect us all – from education to the impact of leading-edge scientific discoveries. Let’s Talk Science offers a number of fun activities to get youth engaged in STEM.

Play a game of hide and seek to discover how animals can hide in plain sight!

What You Need

● A toy animal (could be plastic or stuffed)

What to Do

  • Play a game of hide and seek by hiding the toy animal in an accessible place around your home.
  • The objective is to hide the toy animal in plain sight (i.e., not in cupboards, closets, under furniture, etc.), but also where it blends in with the surroundings, where it is camouflaged.
  • Ask a friend to look for the “hidden” toy animal. Was it easy to find? Why or why not?
  • Hide the toy animal in different locations, places where the degree of camouflage varies. Is it easier or harder to find? Why or why not?

What’s happening?

Camouflage is the way a plant or animal uses its colour, shape and/or texture to blend in with its surroundings to prevent it from being seen by attackers.

Some animals change colour depending on the season. Many birds, for instance, are more coloured during the warm weather months than they are in the wintertime. The coats of some mammals, such as the Snow Rabbit and the Arctic Fox, change to a white colour for the winter.

Marine animals are among the most interestingly camouflaged creatures; for example, octopi and flounders not only change colour but their skin texture also changes to match their surroundings.

Why does it matter?

Certain animals have evolved to blend into their natural environments so that they cannot be seen by predators that would eat them. In other cases, predators like an octopus, use camouflage to blend into the deep sea surroundings so that they can hunt for food without being seen by the creatures they want to eat (prey).

Humans have borrowed these hiding tricks from nature by dressing soldiers in camouflage uniforms in war zones so that they are less visible targets. Painted camouflage has also been used to protect military vehicles, buildings, ships, aircraft, etc. Specific patterns and colours are used to blend into different types of environments, such as dark green jungles, or sandy deserts.

Investigate further

● Try hiding a different toy animal. Can it be hidden in the same places as the first animal? Why or why not?

● Colour a picture of your favourite animal so that it is camouflaged to hide somewhere in your house. Cut it out and hide it in that spot. Ask someone to try and find it.

Discover more free, English and French, Let’s Talk Science hands-on STEM activities, resources and events online.