Question Sheet: How to Fly Like a Bat


Before reading:

  1. List three facts you know about bats. 
  2. Describe how animals fly.

During reading:

  1. How did scientists train bats to fly in a wind tunnel? 
  2. What kind of bat does Swartz study? 
  3. Why do the scientist but white dots on the bats’ wings? 
  4. Why would it be useful to make a flying machine with wings that are designed

    to work the way bat’s wings do? 

  5. Describe in your own words how a bat’s wings move when it flies.

After reading:

  1. Why are video cameras an important scientific tool? 
  2. Why do scientists take bats out of their natural habitat in order to study

    them? Could the same research have been conducted inside a bat cave? Why or why not? 

  3. Why are bat’s wings better than birds’ wings for making tight turns in small


  4. What disadvantages might bats have, in comparison to birds, because they

    have flexible wings rather than rigid ones?


  1. Where does the dog-faced fruit bat live? Why does it live there and not in

    other places? 

  2. What species of bats live in the area where you live?


How do insects move? Find an insect in your schoolyard. Without touching it or disturbing it, observe it for five straight minutes. Then write a short essay about what you learned about how the animal moves. At the end of your essay, answer this question: How might a machine that copies this insect’s movement be useful?


A flying animal’s wings produce an upward force, or “lift.” That lift must be stronger than the downward force created by the animal’s bodyweight. Otherwise, the animal will not be able to stay in the air.

Assume that a bat would weigh 120 grams if it had completely solid bones and 100 grams if it had no bones at all. Also, assume that the bat can produce no lift (0 grams) if it has no bones, and that it can produce 11 grams of lift for every 1 gram of bone that it has, up to a maximum lift of 110 grams. How heavy must that bat be in order to be able to fly?