Animal Tracks Can Illuminate Many Things: A Detective Exercise

Animal Tracks Can Illuminate Many Things: A Detective Exercise

Having students follow animal tracks (even just people, dogs, or squirrels) and investigating how tracks are made is a fun and exciting way to develop critical thinking, measurement, and graphing skills.

Context for Use

Project EXTREMES lessons were intended to be stand alone lessons.

Human footprints and wildlife tracks converge at Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Human footprints and wildlife tracks converge at Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Photo: Greg Weiler/USFWS

 

Goals Header
What Students Will Do

  • Learn how measurements in combination with observation can reveal information about the speed, size, and condition of the animal from its tracks.

  • Learn how to use inferential skills along with data answer questions with limited information available.

 

Teaching Materials

User note: To make an editable copy of the teaching materials in Google Drive, select File > “Make a copy”. This will make a copy for you to save to your own drive and edit as you see fit.
 

Description

  • Activity 1 – Engage (20 minutes) Inferring from Evidence

Working like scientists do, students use the information available to fill in missing pieces of the puzzle.

  • Activity 2 – Explore (90 minutes) Unraveling the Mysteries Found in Tracks

Students collect data to answer questions with graphs and come up with evidence that describes motions recorded in tracks.

  • Activity 3 – Explain (20 minutes) Graphs as Models

Students analyze and interpret their data and two graphs to determine if the data collected on humans would be similar to animals.

  • Activity 4 – Elaborate (30 minutes) From Observations to Inferences

Students determine what an animal was doing based on evidence in the snow. 

  • Activity 5 – Evaluate (10 minutes) What do Animal, Fossil, and Car Tracks all have in Common? 

Students consider how they could use the skills they learned to analyze other events.

 

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