Elk Habitat: A Case Study of Scientific Inquiryby: C. John Graves

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A case study is an excellent way to help students think like scientists as they work to solve a dilemma. This article describes a case study of elk in Yellowstone National Park. Students read short narratives, based on scientific research data, about the puzzling question of why some elk live substantially longer than others in certain areas of Yellowstone. Each successive narrative provides more clues to solving this puzzle. Students are encouraged to model scientists’ approach by asking questions, examining evidence, and designing possible research studies to find answers to the question of elk mortality.

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  • on Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:28 PM

This lesson has 17 correlations to national science standards, and it addresses 14 different biological topics. The students are presented with 2 over-arching questions about the population dynamics of two herds in Yellowstone, and then work through a series of 6 narratives and question sets involving the case. The lesson can be completed in 2 class periods, but further extensions can be added for enrichment purposes. The students are encouraged to locate and analyze data as they formulate an explanation of the elk problem.

Therese H  (Salisbury, MD)
Therese H (Salisbury, MD)

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