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  How Much Tundra To Feed A Caribou?

Instructional Objectives
Background Information
Activity
Evaluation
Web Resources



Topic:
Balance of Nature

Instructional Objectives: Students will:

1. Determine the amount of tundra grass one Caribou and a herd of Caribou will eat in one day, one month and one year.

2. Reflect and record all data in student science journals.

3. Create a bar/line graph to represent data.

Background Information:

One caribou will consume 2 percent of its body weight in one day. Based on this data calculations can be made as to what it will take to keep one caribou alive for one day. The average weight of a caribou is 189 kg. Caribou herds in Denali have grown smaller in number over the years; however, Denali National Park does have a healthy caribou herd and many caribou are seen by visitors every summer. The approximate number of caribou in Denali is 3000 animals. (Source: Kim Sneden, Interview, Education Director, Detroit Zoological Park, Detroit, Michigan, January 20, 1997.)

Activity : How Much Tundra To Feed A Caribou?

Time Needed For Activity: One 45 minute period to complete calculations graph results and enter data in student science journals.

Target Grade Level: Middle school (Extensions and adjustments for elementary and high school found below.)

Materials Needed: For each group of four students (Use Cooperative Groups and identify recorder, leader/reader and investigator.)

  • Student science journal
  • Calculator
  • Pencil/Paper
  • Graph paper
  • Student Science Journals

Procedure:

1. Distribute materials to students.

2. Give students data: One average caribou is 189 kg, and eats 2 percent of its body weight per day.

3. Have students calculate the mass of food one caribou eats in one day, one month, and one year.

4. Have students calculate the mass of food one herd of caribou (50) eat in one day, one month and one year and calculate what the entire population of caribou in Denali National Park will eat in one day, one month and one year.

5. Record the results in student science journals and graph the results in a line or bar graph.

Evaluation/Alternative Assessment:

Have students present the data they have collected/calculated regarding the mass of tundra grass it takes to feed one caribou, one herd of caribou and the entire population of caribou in Denali National Park and enter this data in the student science journal. Also, present results to class and compare. Display graphs created by students.

Elementary Extension:

Have science teacher discuss the restricted area of land in Denali National Park and the animals that must survive there following the viewing of the film. Discuss the need for wildlife management and the balance of nature, emphasizing the need for managed populations in areas with limited boundaries. An extension might be to discuss what happens regarding overpopulation of a species.

Secondary Extension:

Have students enter data on spreadsheet and compare the amount of tundra grass it takes to feed caribou with moose and other browsers such as Dall Sheep. Also research other animals of Denali and compare and contrast which animals eat what kinds of food in the park. Access the homepage listed below specific to caribou and graph the caribou migrations listed on the homepage.

Web Resources

Denali Homepage:
http://www.nps.gov/dena/

Other Denali Sites:

NOVA: Surviving Denali
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/denali/
Specific to Caribou:
http://www.learner.org/jnorth/1997/critters/caribou/index.html

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