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McREL Standards Activity


It’s A Wolf’s Life


Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will be able to understand the interconnectedness of organisms and their environment. Additionally, they will obtain a simple understanding of how graphs are used to follow and determine scientific trends.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
Science
 Standard 6.Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 3. Knows that an organism’s patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that organism’s environment (e.g., kinds and numbers of other organisms present, availability of food and resources, physical characteristics of the environment)
Science
 Standard 6.Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 5. Knows that all organisms (including humans) cause changes in their environments, and these changes can be beneficial or detrimental
Mathematics
 Standard 6.Understands and applies basic and advanced concepts of statistics and data analysis
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 1. Understands that data represent specific pieces of information about real-world objects or activities
Mathematics
 Standard 6.Understands and applies basic and advanced concepts of statistics and data analysis
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 4. Organizes and displays data in simple bar graphs, pie charts, and line graphs
Student Product:Graph and analysis
Material & Resources:Large writing surface, such as a blackboard
Two parallel lines marked about 20 feet away. It helps to have room to run around, so you may want to do this activity outside, if possible.
Teacher's Note:No supplementary notes for this activity.
Activity
Make sure students are familiar with the habitat of a wolf. Bring pictures if necessary. Review the necessities of life for animals: food, shelter, and water. Create cards (enough for each student) which are equally labeled with one of three groups: food, water, and shelter. To begin, choose about 25% of the students to be "wolves." Have them stand behind one line. The remainder of the students will represent "resources" and should line up on the opposite line. Have each student draw a card. For the wolves, this card will represent a resource that they need. For the resources, this simply indicates which resource they will be. The game is divided into rounds. Once the teacher begins the round, the wolves go over to the resource line and find the resource that they need. Any wolf that does not get the needed resource dies and becomes a resource in the next round. Successfully captured resources become wolves in the next round (simulating births of wolf cubs). After each round, have the class record on the board the Round (Round 1, Round 2, or Round 3, . . . etc.) and the number of wolves there were originally, how many died, and the conditions of the environment (low water, no food, etc.). After a set amount of rounds, introduce "humans." Create, either previously or with the class’s assistance, events that would alter either the environment, the wolf population, or both. Some examples would be hunters (remove 1 or 2 wolves each round), forest fire (remove some resource elements and wolves), trappers (remove 2 or 3 food resources), etc. You may also consider natural disasters, such as a flood, drought, etc. It is recommended that the teacher (or a designated student) keep a record of the board data to photocopy for each student. Before assigning the follow-up activity, conduct a group discussion to assess the students’ understanding of the activity. Some sample questions to discuss are below: 1. Think about the following: Trappers in the Hudson Bay counted hare and lynx populations over a hundred years. They noted that the hare population would peak, then crash, over a span of 7-9 years. The lynxs would do the same, but a year later. Which animal is the predator and which the prey? Which animal controls the cycling of the other and why? How is this similar to the game of wolves and resources we played? 2. Explain the meaning of "wolves" turning into "resources" and vice-versa. What does it represent? 3. Farmers have found that when they use a extremely strong pesticide on their crops, the pests eventually return in even greater numbers. Keeping in mind that insect pests have natural predators (such as ladybugs and spiders), can you explain why the pests return? Can you develop a better pest control solution? After students have a better understanding of the activity, explain that they will be graphing the data acquired through the activity. They will be required to: 1. Select the most appropriate format for the data (number of wolves as a function of time). 2. Mark significant milestones, such as a human intervention or a lack or abundance of some resource. 3. Label appropriate axises, the scale, the title, etc. 4. Summarize any patterns in the data in simple words (e.g., does the population of wolves keep going up, down, or does it go back and forth?).