FIRST HAND LEARNING E-NEWSLETTER

Vol. 2, No. 1

IN THIS ISSUE:
1. MAKE TRACKS to Winter Inquiries
2. WHAT HAPPENED HERE?
3. Download a FREE MINIJOURNAL Today!
4. TEACHING SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY Outside the Classroom

1. WHAT TO DO IN WINTER – TRACK MAMMALS

Now that it’s cold and the deciduous trees are bare, getting outside to observe nature can seem more trouble than it’s worth. But this “quiet season” conceals a lot of activity. After a snowfall some of that activity is revealed to the sharp-eyed observer.

Many mammals are nocturnal and hard to spot, but a fresh coat of snow on the ground creates perfect conditions for documenting their movements. Tracks can be found just about everywhere, once you start looking.

Take a couple of moments to observe: you have a great chance to find out what your local animal population has been up to.

2. CAN YOU SOLVE THESE TRACK MYSTERIES?

Need some inspiration to get started? Go to www.firsthandlearning.org/tracks and examine our photographs of mystery tracks. Can you decipher what’s happened?

If you need some help reading animal tracks consult a good field guide, or go online for more information. Here are a few links to get you started:

For all the basics on tracks, visit the National Wildlife Federation’s eNature site and download a free regional guide to mammal tracks in your area: www.enature.com/articles/detail.asp?storyID=654

Check out additional photos of animal tracks in snow and mud taken by Minnesota students at www.hopkins.k12.mn.us/Pages/District/NatCor/Collections/AnimalTracks/

To read about the efforts of the Valley Trackers, a community-based wildlife monitoring program sponsored by Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, go to www.mtholyoke.edu/proj/cel/ref/place/holyoke/monitoring.shtml.

Want to begin your own track investigations? For more detailed information about identifying and analyzing tracks, visit www.princeton.edu/~oa/nature/tracking.shtml

3. MAKE TRACKS TO FIRST HAND LEARNING’S MINI JOURNAL
free and downloadable

Tracks are fascinating, because they represent movement frozen in time. Download First Hand Learning’s free mini journal and begin documenting the tracks you see: www.firsthandlearning.org/minijournal

Draw or photograph the tracks you discover and don’t forget to include measurements, descriptions, and other data that will help you identify what made the tracks and how it was moving.

4. OUTDOOR INQUIRIES

Examining an animal track is just one opportunity that students have to learn firsthand about the world around them and to think scientifically. If you are interested in using the rich educational resource that is the natural world, learn more about First Hand Learning’s OUTDOOR INQUIRIES program at www.firsthandlearning.org/outdoorinq.html

This toolkit and teacher’s resource guide provides teachers with practical strategies and helpful tools to support student inquiry and exploration of the real world beyond the classroom. For more information about OUTDOOR INQUIRIES, including kit materials, ordering, and professional development opportunities, visit www.firsthandlearning.org/catalog/catalog_frameset5.html

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We hope you found this edition of the FIRSTHAND E-NEWSLETTER useful. Please contact us with any comments, suggestions, or questions you may have by emailing us at: inquiries@firsthandlearning.org.

First Hand Learning is interested in teachers’ accounts of learning and teaching from direct experience. Share your thoughts and stories with us, and we’ll feature them in a future e-letter highlighting real-world inquiry in, and out of, the classroom.

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