Dare to Care for a Grizzly Bear
Lesson Overview

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GRADE LEVEL: 9-11

TIME ALLOTMENT: Three to four 45-minute class periods, with additional time for homework

OVERVIEW: Grizzly bears were once scarce in Yellowstone National Park and on their way to extinction. Now, however, America’s greatest predator is making a comeback. The story of the grizzly’s return is one of the biggest successes in conservation history. The restored presence of the bears has brought visitors and revenue to the park, but it has also brought frustration and destruction to local ranchers, homeowners, and tourists living and working nearby.

Using the NATURE episode “The Good, The Bad and the Grizzly,” students will discover how human beings have both saved and harmed a species. Students will investigate how human beings have interacted with and impacted the lives of grizzly bears, sometimes deliberately and sometimes inadvertently. Students will be able to articulate the complex and competing perspectives on how to best handle the burgeoning bear population, and describe the multiple factors contributing to the destabilization of the bear’s Yellowstone ecosystem.

The lesson will begin with students participating in an introductory activity, in which they will challenge their notions of what is “good,” “bad,” “true,” and “false” about grizzly bears and animal conservation efforts. Following the activity, students will research the habits and habitats of grizzly bears. Then, utilizing segments from the NATURE episode, students will explore the complex relationships between humans and grizzlies in the Yellowstone ecosystem. Students will then play and refine a classroom-based simulation game illustrating the challenges and obstacles to grizzly life in the national park and the surrounding area. As a culminating activity, students will write a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, either asking for special protection for the Yellowstone grizzly population, or endorsing the bear’s de-listing from the Endangered Species Act.

SUBJECT MATTER: Living Environment/Biology

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

Students will be able to:

  • Describe intentional and inadvertent impacts human beings have had on the grizzly bear population in the Yellowstone ecosystem;
  • Articulate how the relationship between humans and grizzlies has changed over time;
  • Evaluate the complex contemporary relationship between humans and grizzlies, as well as the challenging aspects of wildlife protection programs;
  • Identify the grizzly bear’s critical food sources in the Yellowstone ecosystem, and the threats posed to these food sources;
  • Describe the challenges and obstacles faced by bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem, and refine a simulation game with their knowledge;
  • Make an informed decision about whether or not to support the de-listing of grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act.

STANDARDS AND CURRICULUM ALIGNMENT

National Science Standards for Science Content

CONTENT STANDARDS C; Life Science

As a result of activities in grades 9-12, students should develop understandings of:

  • Interdependence of Organisms
  • Human beings live within the world’s ecosystems. Increasingly, humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, technology, and consumption. Human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, atmospheric changes, and other factors is threatening current global stability, and if not addressed, ecosystems will be irreversibly affected.

New York State Regents Core Curriculum Alignments
Living Environment Core Curriculum

Standard 4. Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science. This change over time is well-documented by extensive evidence from a wide variety of sources.

Key Idea 1: Living Things are both similar to and different from each other and from non-living things.

Performance Indicators

1.1 Explain how diversity of populations within ecosystems relates to the stability of ecosystems.

1.1a Populations can be categorized by the function they serve. Food webs identify the relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposer carting out either autotrophic or heterotrophic nutrition.

1.1c In all environments, organisms compete for vital resources. The linked and changing interactions of populations and the environment compose the total ecosystem.

Key Idea 7: Describe the range of interrelationships of humans with the living and non-living environment

7.1c Human beings are part of the Earth’s ecosystems. Human activities can, deliberately or inadvertently alter the equilibrium in ecosystems. Humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, consumption and technology. Human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, atmospheric changes, and other factors is threatening current global stability, and if not addressed, ecosystems may be irreversibly affected.

7.2a Human activities that degrade ecosystems result in a loss of diversity of the living and non-living environment. For example, the influence of humans on other organisms occurs through land use and pollution. Land use decreases the space and resources available to other species, and pollution changes the chemical composition of air, soil and water.

MEDIA COMPONENTS

Video

NATURE, The Good, The Bad and the Grizzly, selected clips:

Clip 1, “Bears’ Lunch Counter”

This segment explores how the relationship between humans and grizzly bears has changed over the course of American History, and describes the closing of the Yellowstone garbage dumps in the 1970s.

Clip 2, “This Is Their Land”

This segment examines how the human/grizzly relationship has changed since the closing of the Yellowstone dumps, and the challenges posed to both humans and bears.

Clip 3, “Bears Don’t Recognize Boundaries”

This segment focuses on the problems bears are creating on ranch land surrounding Yellowstone National Park.

Clip 4, “Bears in the Schoolyard”

This segment focuses on the precautions humans must take in the face of a growing grizzly bear population.

Clip 5, “Bear Necessities”

This segment focuses on the four foods most important to grizzly survival, and the threats to each of them.

Clip 6, “To List or Not To List”

This segment focuses on the ongoing debate regarding whether or not grizzlies need special protection for their population.

Access the streaming and downloadable video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.

Web Sites

Windows into Wonderland
Take your students on an electronic field trip to Yellowstone National Park where they can explore bear ecology, history, and the challenges of bear management.

Plain Graph Paper PDF Generator
This Web site allows you to create customizable and printable graph paper. You will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in, available for free download at Adobe, in order to open and print the graph paper you create.

Yellowstone National Park Official Map
This Web site from the National Park Service provides an 11×17 detailed map of services, facilities, features, and attractions at Yellowstone National Park.

Cardinal Points of the Compass
This Web site features a depiction of a compass with the cardinal points illustrated.

MATERIALS

For each student:

  • “Dare to Care for A Grizzly Bear” Student Organizer (PDF) (RTF)
  • Pencil and paper

For each team of 4 students:

  • One sheet of graph paper on 11×17 paper, created with the Plain Graph Paper PDF Generator, according to the specifications listed in the “Prep for Teachers” section below.
  • One copy of the Yellowstone National Park Official Map on 11×17 paper or transparency
  • One compass, downloaded and printed from Cardinal Points of the Compass
  • One copy of Yellowstone Bear Adventure Game Rules (PDF) (RTF)
  • One basket, box, or envelope containing the Yellowstone Adventure Bear Scenarios (PDF) (RTF), cut into individual strips.
  • One basket, box, or envelope containing the Yellowstone Adventure “Outside the Park” Bear Scenarios (PDF) (RTF), cut into individual strips.
  • A minimum of five Teddy Grahams or bear-shaped animal crackers
  • Two brightly colored markers in different colors

For the classroom:

  • A map of the United States
  • Four large signs; one each reading “GOOD,” “BAD,” “TRUE,” and “FALSE”
  • “Dare to Care for a Grizzly Bear” Answer Key (PDF) (RTF)
  • Computers with Internet access
  • LCD projector
  • Chalkboard or whiteboard
  • Additional Teddy Grahams or animal crackers for eating

PREP FOR TEACHERS

Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Preview all of the video clips and Web sites used in the lesson.

Download the video clips used in the lesson to your classroom computer, or prepare to watch them using your classroom’s Internet connection.

Bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Using a social bookmarking tool such as del.icio.us or diigo (or an online bookmarking utility such as portaportal) will allow you to organize all the links in a central location.

For the Introductory Activity and Culminating Activity:
Create signs with the words “GOOD,” “BAD,” “TRUE,” and “FALSE.” Put one sign on each wall of your classroom.

Download and print the “Dare to Care for a Grizzly Bear” Student Organizer, the “Dare to Care for a Grizzly Bear” Answer Key and make copies of all for each of your students.

For the Culminating Activity:

Download and print the Yellowstone National Park Official Map, and make one copy on 11×17 paper for each group of four students in your classroom. Download and print the Compass Web site and make one copy of the compass for each group of four students in your classroom.

Visit the Graph Paper Generator Web site, and create graph paper according to the following specifications: PDF document size = 11×17 inches; minimum border = 0.5 inches; grid line weight = 1 point; grid line spacing = 1 line per inch. Download and print the PDF of the graph paper you have created onto 11×17 paper or transparency. Make one copy of the graph paper for each group of four students in your classroom.

Download and print the Yellowstone Adventure “Bear Scenarios,” and make one copy for each group of four students in your classroom. Cut each set of Bear Scenarios into a series of strips, with one scenario listed on each strip. Put a complete cut-up set of bear scenarios in a box, envelope, or basket for each group of four students in your classroom.

Download and print the Yellowstone Adventure “Outside the Park” Bear Scenarios, and make one copy for each group of four students in your classroom. Cut each set of “Outside the Park” Bear Scenarios into a series of strips, with one scenario listed on each strip. Put a complete cut-up set of “Outside the Park” bear scenarios in a box, envelope, or basket for each group of four students in your classroom. Each group of four students should have a set of both the Bear Scenarios and the Outside the Park Bear Scenarios.

Next: Proceed to Activities

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