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Call of the Wild Northwest

School: Palouse Prairie Charter School

City/State: Moscow, ID

Grade(s): 3

Format(s): Visual arts

Subject(s): Science and Technology, Visual Arts

Project Overview

In this science expedition, 3rd graders answered the guiding question, how do natural and human-made elements impact wildlife in the Northwest?

The first case study focused on steelhead trout and how elements impact their anadromous migration through the Snake and Columbia Rivers. The students
learned about the life-cycle and anatomy of steelhead to better understand how they adapt to surviving in both fresh and salt water. The students demonstrated how the food web changes depending on the environment. Through fieldwork and experts, the students gathered information about the eight dams along the Lower Snake and Columbia rivers and how they have impacted steelhead populations over time.

The second case study focused on the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park and how that reintroduction impacted local communities and ecosystems. The students researched the extermination and reintroduction of wolves, gathering key details on how the ecosystem changed and the food web adjusted depending on their absence or presence. They also read “big bad wolf” folk tales and compared them to facts about how wolves behave and live. They drew conclusions about how misconceptions can lead to fear and fear can drive extreme decisions.

The final product was a T-shirt collaboratively designed by the students and crafted using a scratch art technique. You can see the two ecosystems represented in the image. The black background is the wolf and the various organisms that belong to the wolf’s food web. The white background is the Steelhead within the various organisms that belong to its food web. This shirt, that is worn proudly and sold in our community, represents our simplified answer to the guiding question; every element—natural or human-made—impacts natures balance and we need to be mindful of that in making decisions that ensure that balance remains.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Shows a unique product that serves as a model that works for any grade level
  • Excellent example of a meaningful product that ties in nicely with the expedition
  • Highlights a product with very strong aesthetic quality
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