Science

Index - SCIENCE - Learning Activities
(Biology, Botany, Zoology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science, Astronomy, Ecology, Environmental Science)

LESSON PLANS are full format, formal Lesson Plans.  Others are brief format Learning Activities.

Click here for CURRICULUM STANDARDS to activities listed below.


No
Topic
Main Subject Area
Related Subject Areas
1
Prairie Root Systems (DOC) LESSON PLAN (2-3)
science, biology, botany
mathematics
2
Introduction to Prairie Plants LESSON PLAN (3-4)
science, biology, botany

3
Where Does the Water Go? (PDF) LESSON PLAN (6-8)
science
mathematics
4
Notable Features of a Watershed (PDF) LESSON PLAN (6-8)
science
mathematics
5
Everything is Connected LESSON PLAN (9-12)
science, biology, zoology, earth science, ecology

6
Particulate Study During Burning Season (DOC)   LESSON PLAN (10-12)
science, environmental science

7
Four earth cycles
science, earth science, biology, chemistry

8
Grassland biotic community
science, biology, ecology

9
Other grasslands of the world in Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America
science, biology, botany
social studies, economics, sociology; language arts, writing
10
Warm season grasses
science, biology, botany
career, agriculture and technology, agronomy
11
Cool season grasses
science, biology, botany
career, agriculture and technology, agronomy
12
Parts of a grass plant
science, biology and botany

13
Increasers, Decreasers, and Invaders
science, biology, botany
career, agriculture and technology, agronomy
14
Issue of over-grazing and rangeland carrying capacity
science, biology, botany
career, agriculture and technology, animal science, agronomy; language arts, writing
15
Other domestic grazers - horses, sheep, goats, pigs
science, biology
agriculture and technology, animal science, agronomy
16
Wild “grazers” - large and very small
science, biology, zoology

17
Tallgrass prairie food chain
science, biology, zoology
social studies
18
Nitrogen in the tallgrass prairie
science, biology, ecology, chemistry
career, agriculture and technology, agronomy
19
Ethnobotany - edible and medicinal native plant uses
science, biology
family and consumer science, culinary arts
20
What is a herbarium?
science, biology, botany
writing, speaking
21
Physiology, history, and ecological significance of the Bison in the tallgrass prairie
science, zoology
career, agriculture and technology, animal science; history; language arts, writing
22
Konza Prairie Biological Station
science, biology, earth science
career, agriculture and technology, agronomy, animal science
23
Aquatic life forms
science, biology, zoology, ecology

24
Stocking a farm pond with fish
science, biology
mathematics
25
Riparian areas and streamside ecosystems
science, biology
language arts, writing
26
Importance of pollinators in the prairie
science, biology, ecology

language arts, journalism
27
Birds in the Flint Hills
science, biology
language arts, writing
28
Greater Prairie Chicken
science, biology
art, photography, illustration; language arts, writing
29
Climate, grazing, and fire
science, biology, ecology, earth science
language arts, writing
30
Biodiversity
science, biology, ecology
language arts, writing
31
Ecosystem services of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem
science, ecology
social studies, economics
32
Three prairie regions of North America
science, biology
social studies, geography
33
Extent of the tallgrass prairie
science, biology and ecology
social studies, geography
34
Fragmentation of the prairie
science, biology, ecology
language arts, writing
35
Impact of fragmentation on wildlife
science, biology, zoology

36
“Go back” pastures - succession of plant species
science, biology, botany
social studies, history; language arts, writing
37
Prairie restoration
science, biology, botany
career, agriculture and technology, agronomy
38
Woody invasion
science, biology, agronomy

39
Recreational landownership and invasion of woody species
science, biology, zoology
language arts, writing
40
Research historical woodlands - trees native to the Flint Hills
science, biology
social studies, history
41
Prescribed burning
science, chemistry, biology, earth science
career, agriculture and technology and agronomy; language arts, writing
42
Major exotic and invasive species
science, biology, zoology
language arts, writing
43
Controlling “noxious weeds”
science, biology, chemistry, zoology
social studies, government
44
Eastern Red Cedar invasion
science, biology, geology
Language arts, math
45
Chemistry and economics of herbicides
science, chemistry, agronomy and biology
business; math
46
Climate change in the Flint Hills
science, biology, ecology, earth science

47
Geologic history of the Flint Hills
science, geology
career, agriculture and technology, construction; social studies, geography, economics
48
Main rock types in your area
science, geology
career, agriculture and technology, construction; social studies, geography, economics
49
Local soils
science, geology
career, agriculture and technology, agronomy
50
Impact of oil and gas production
science, geology, ecology
social studies, economics; business
51
Current issues involving production of oil
science, geology, ecology
social studies, economics
52
Impact of industrial wind development
science, biology, ecology
business; social studies, economics; career, agriculture and technology, industrial production
53
Water treatment
science, chemistry, physics

54
Biomimicry and perennial polyculture
science, biology, ecology
career, agriculture and technology, agronomy; language arts, reading, writing
55
Observation of the night sky
science, astronomy
writing; art
56
“Light pollution” and darkness in the Flint Hills
science, astronomy
writing
57
Interpret a quotation about Tallgrass Prairie and Fire
science, biology, agriculture, agronomy;
language arts, reading, writing
58
Interpret a quotation about Soil and Water Conservation
science, earth science, biology
language arts, reading, writing

Flint Hills Learning Activities to Integrate Flint Hills Into Existing Curriculum

 

 
SCIENCE 


(Biology, Botany, Zoology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science, Astronomy, Ecology, Environmental Science)

Any activities with blue links below – are fully-developed LESSON PLANS – click to link to lesson materials in Lesson Plans section. 

1. Prairie Root Systems


In this Prairie Root Systems (DOC) LESSON PLAN (grades 2-3), students will recognize that prairie plants have extensive root systems. They will use a diagram to determine plant height and root length. Students will use a measuring tool to construct a visual from yarn. (science, biology, botany; mathematics)

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2. Introduction to Prairie Plants


In this Introduction to Prairie Plants LESSON PLAN (grades 3-4), students explore biodiversity, view introductory power-points, read background info, perform card activities, keep notebook plant journal, perform assessment, take field trip if possible, explore numerous references. (science, biology, botany)

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3. Where Does the Water Go


In this Where Does the Water Go? (PDF) LESSON PLAN (grades 6-8), raw climate and stream outflow data is collected, graphed and analyzed by students for the community in which they are located. Results of the graphing are used to explain the water cycle. Students will graph raw climate and stream outflow data to explain the water cycle within their local watershed district. [Links directly to Next Generation Science Standards recommended classroom activities] (science; mathematics)

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4. Notable Features of a Watershed


In this Notable Features of a Watershed (PDF) LESSON PLAN (grades 6-8), students observe and chart porous and impervious features of the watershed. Summarize the effect the features have on the water quality and outflow. [links directly to Next Generation Science Standards recommended classroom activities] (science; mathematics)

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5. Everything Is Connected


In this Everything is Connected LESSON PLAN (grades 9-12), students examine and formulate conjectures regarding connections between ecosystem elements - plants, animals, weather, etc. Explore concepts of food chains, food webs, inter-dependence of organisms, interactions and dynamics in ecosystems. (science, biology, zoology, earth science, ecology)

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6. Particulate Study During Burning Season


In this Particulate Study During Burning Season (DOC) LESSON PLAN (grades 10-12), students examine reasons for prescribed burning in range management and governmental regulations on burning practices; take air quality samples during burning season; evaluate competing public policy issues. (science, environmental science)

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7. Four Earth Cycles


What are the four earth cycles and how do they occur in the Flint Hills? Students will explore the rock, water, nitrogen, and carbon cycles in their immediate environment. For each of the four cycles, students will identify four specific examples of organisms or natural objects that are affected by this cycle. Students will create a graphic organizer with 16 boxes with top row for the four cycles, and a column for each cycle, and in the columns below will identify their examples and explain how each is a part of that earth cycle. (science, earth science, biology, chemistry)

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8. Grassland Biotic Community


Students will explore the concept of biotic community and will identify the characteristics of prairie as a grassland biotic community. Students will create an illustrated poster outlining the basic features of the grassland biotic community (science, biology, ecology)

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9. Grasslands of the World in Africa, Asia, Australia, & South America


Students will explore similarities and differences between the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie and other grasslands of the world in Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. How are the grasses, wildlife, and ecosystems different in those places? What economic enterprises depend upon those grasslands? Have they established grassland preserves? What challenges do they face ecologically that we do not face? What similar challenges do we have? How are their native cultures different and adapted to their ecosystems? Students will write a compare and contrast essay comparing the Flint Hills to another grassland in the world. (science, biology, botany, social studies, economics, sociology, language arts, writing)

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10. Warm Season Grasses


Students will identify and describe the four main warm season grasses in the tallgrass prairie. How are they alike and different in appearance, growth habitat, extent, and use? Students will create a chart of the four grasses classifying their various differences and characteristics. (science, biology, botany, career, agriculture and technology, agronomy)

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11. Cool Season Grasses


Students will identify and describe the most common cool season grasses in the tallgrass prairie? Which are native and which are introduced? What advantages and disadvantages does each species have to ranchers? Students will create a summary chart of four cool season grasses (science, biology, botany, career, agriculture and technology, agronomy)

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12. Parts of a Grass Plant


Students will identify and explain the function of the different parts of a grass plant. Students will explore the ways grasses are well-adapted to climatic extremes, how they reproduce and disperse seed, and their importance over time in nature and to humans. (science, biology and botany)

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13. Increaser, Decreaser, & Invader


Students will explain the difference between the terms increaser, decreaser, and invader in the context of tallgrass prairie. How do these terms help us evaluation rangeland health. Which grasses and forbs are increasers, which are decreasers, and which are invaders? In your area, which of these can you identify, and what can you observe about their extent in the prairie? What grazing systems might help bring back the decreasers and reduce the increasers? What can be done about invaders? What is the more technical Floristic Quality Index (FQI) that rates each plant for its tolerance of disturbance? How are these two rating methods similar? Look up and compare the “coefficient of conservatism value” for a few plants you know to be increasers, decreasers, or invaders. Students will create a comparative chart describing increasers, decreasers, and invaders, and at the bottom summarize best management practices for the prairie plants (science, biology, botany; career, agriculture and technology, agronomy)

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14. Issue of Over-Grazing & Rangeland Carrying Capacity


Students will examine the range management issue of over-grazing and rangeland carrying capacity. What do “stocking rate” and “carrying capacity” mean? What is the difference between full season single-stocking and half season double stocking? What the stocking rates and months for these grazing systems? What is rotational grazing? What is an “animal unit”? What are the symptoms of an over-grazed pasture? What increaser species are indicators of excessive grazing pressure? How can over-stocking be a cause of over-grazing? How important is timing of cattle grazing with respect to plant growth? At what point in the season do plants begin to store energy in their roots? What happens if pastures are over-grazed beyond this point? What happens to the grass plants if double-stocked cattle are not removed from the pasture after the recommended date of July 15? How can poor grazing distribution be a cause of over-grazing? Which end of a pasture do cattle tend to graze harder? What management practices can ranchers use to encourage better grazing distribution? How can ranchers restore a pasture that has been over-grazed? Who in your area has won the local Conservation District’s Grassland Award for good stewardship of the prairie? What practices did these good managers utilize? Students will examine Natural Resource Conservation District and Extension Service publications on good grazing practices, and will write a newspaper article of ways to prevent over-grazing. (science, biology, botany; career, agriculture and technology, animal science, agronomy, language arts, writing.)

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15. Other Domestic Grazers - Horses, Sheep, Goats, Pigs & Poultry


Students will explore economic and land stewardship issues with other domestic grazers - horses, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry. What other livestock species besides cattle and bison can eat prairie grass? What are the different physiologies and digestive systems of these grazers? What nutritional requirements do they have? What types of grazing issues do horses, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens present? For example, why do horses as grazers put a different kind of pressure on a pasture than cattle? How are their teeth different so that they crop the grass closer to the ground? What are recommended stocking rates for horses and other species - how many acres do they need? What are the economics of raising these species - for pets, recreation, hobbies, niche market food products, etc. Students will explore grazing systems and best management practices for these alternative species, and create a chart comparing different aspects of each species. (science, biology, agriculture and technology, animal science, agronomy)

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16. Native Wild &Ldquo;Grazers&Rdquo; - Large & Small


Students will identify species of native wild “grazers” - large and small which also graze the prairie. What large, wild ungulate (hoofed) species in the Flint Hills are grazers? What do they like to eat? What other smaller (even tiny) wild creatures also consume prairie grass? On what basis does the Konza Prairie classify grasshoppers as the second most important grazer on the prairie? What are the habitat requirements and ecosystem interactions of these other grazers? In what way is the presence or absence of these lifeforms considered to be an indicator of the ecological health of the prairie? Students will create a poster (could arrange from large to small) to illustrate the variety of wild species which “graze” the prairie. (science, biology, zoology)

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17. Tallgrass Prairie Food Chain


Students will analyze the tallgrass prairie food chain showing how energy in a natural community. What is a trophic level? What are the primary producers on the prairie? What are the primary, secondary, tertiary, and apex consumers? Which tallgrass prairie organisms occupy different levels? At what level are herbivorous domestic livestock such as cattle? At what level are omnivorous humans eating (1) wild plants? (2) venison (deer meat) or grassfed beef (from cattle)? At which level can humans obtain the most significant food supply from native prairie? As human population grows and food needs increase, what will be the pressures to plow and remove native prairie to grow crops humans can eat directly as secondary consumers (gaining more calories per acre)? However, what tallgrass prairie ecosystem services would be lost if the tallgrass prairie were destroyed, and how might this also affect food supply? Students will create a tallgrass prairie food chain pyramid containing both wild species, domestic species, and humans (science, biology, zoology; social studies, economics)

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18. Nitrogen


Students will investigate special aspects of nitrogen in the Flint Hills ecosystem. Where is nitrogen found in the ecosystem? Which type of plants are particularly good at fixing nitrogen - name some of these specific species. How does availability of nitrogen affect the productivity of grass? What does burning do to the nitrogen availability? Which type of grass does this favor - warm season or cool season? How does the nitrogen content of the grass change when it is dead and how does this affect decomposition rates, and the storage of carbon over time? What role is played by the streams of the Flint Hills? How do small stream plants and animals help remove inorganic nitrogen that may be washed in, keeping water clean? Explain the process of how lightning adds to the nitrogen cycle? Students will create a graphic organizer summarizing different ways that nitrogen affects, and is affected by, the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie. (science, biology, ecology, chemistry; career, agriculture and technology, agronomy)

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19. Ethnobotany - Edible & Medicinal Native Plant Uses


Students will explore ethnobotany by identifying local edible and medicinal native plant uses by Native American people and early pioneers. What plants could be used as a food source? How were they prepared? Which plants might be used to heal or provide special vitamins and nutrients? How were teas used? Students will create a poster containing examples of an early Native American’s wild foods diet. (science, biology, family and consumer science, culinary arts)

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20. Herbarium


Students will investigate the activities of a herbarium. What is a herbarium? What is their purpose? How do they store and catalog plants? What problems do they face - what are some of their policies? How does this relate to the concept of biodiversity? What databases are in the K-State Herbarium? Students will write the dialogue for a tour guide leading guests through the K-State Herbarium - explaining what this institution does and why. https://www.k-state.edu/herbarium/index.html (science, biology, botany; writing, speaking)

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21. Physiology, History, & Ecological Significance of the Bison in the Tallgrass Prairie


Students will explore the physiology, history, and ecological significance of the Bison in the tallgrass prairie. What are the physiology of the bison? How does it graze and behave in herds? Why do some say it was a “keystone” species in the prehistoric tallgrass prairie. What is the history of Native American use of the buffalo? What is the story of the over-hunting and near-extinction of the buffalo? What were the industrial uses for buffalo in the late 1800s? What was the connection between deliberate removal of the buffalo and removal of the Native Americans? Students will write a history of bison in the Flint Hills. (science, zoology; career, agriculture and technology, animal science; history; language arts, writing)

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22. Konza Prairie Biological Station


Students will investigate the Konza Prairie Biological Station. What two entities own and operate this preserve? Who can do research on it? Can you hike there? Can you pick wildflowers there? How are they studying the three ecological processes that sustain tallgrass prairie: fire, grazing, and climate? Do they have grazing animals there? What kind - why? Watch the video on ecological research (PDF).  What types of current research are taking place? Students will create a poster illustrating 5 effects of burning being researched on the Konza. (science, biology, earth science; career, agriculture and technology, agronomy, animal science)

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23. Aquatic Life Forms


Students will investigate various aquatic life forms common in creeks and rivers in the Flint Hills. What are the differences in habitat for large, lowland waterways and smaller upland streams? What categories of life will you find there? What are common fish species? What is a mussel and what is its physiology? What water-related insects are common, and how can you observe their various life stages? Where can you see crayfish in a stream - what is their physiology? What amphibians are present? How does the presence of frogs indicate the ecological health of a stream? What snakes and turtles are common? Which Flint Hills mammals rely on aquatic habitat? If possible, take a field trip to a nearby creek. Students will create an illustrated poster classifying and describing different aquatic life forms. (science, biology, zoology, ecology)

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24. How to Stock a Farm Pond With Fish

 
Students will research how to stock a farm pond with fish. How do you figure the size of the pond? Students will walk the perimeter of the pond and create a formula to determine the area of the pond. Students will estimate the pond depth and determine the volume of water in the pond. Students will research recommended species for Kansas ponds and recommended stocking rates. From this, students will determine the number of fish to put in. They will research the cost of stocking a small pond. What are some of the problems to avoid in stocking a pond? How long will it be before they can go fishing? How long will this fish population live? Students will summarize their research by creating a “Guide to Stocking Your Pond” brochure (science, biology, mathematics)

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25. Riparian Areas & Streamside Ecosystems


Students will explore the concept of riparian areas and streamside ecosystems. What makes a healthy riparian area? Why is ground cover and vegetation important near streams? What species make a healthy riparian area in an upland pasture? What trees are desirable in a lowland river riparian area? What understory of vegetation indicates a healthy riparian environment? What livestock management practices lead to a healthy riparian area? Students will read county extension service bulletins on riparian management and write a newspaper article advising ranchers on best practices. (science, biology, language arts, writing)

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26. Pollinator Species


Students will explore the role of pollinator species that live in the intact prairie of the Flint Hills. What are the prairie pollinators? For example, what is the life cycle, behavior, and pollination activities of a few of the 400-500 species of bees? Why are these pollinator species important to the prairie ecosystem? To human agriculture? Why are they declining? What will be the impact on agriculture and human food security if this decline continues? Students will write a newspaper article explaining the major importance of these tiny creatures. (science, biology, ecology, language arts, journalism)

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27. Variety of Bird Species


Students will explore the rich variety of bird species in the Flint Hills. What bird species rely on open prairie without trees? What are their identifying features? What are their diets, habitat, reproductive habits, and other behaviors? How are their numbers? What raptors are common in the prairie? What are their identifying characteristics, diets, habitat, reproductive habits, and behaviors? What birds like to live in farm buildings? Which live in forested areas along streams? What are the distinctive songs you can identify? What makes the Turkey Vulture a unique and major component of the ecosystem? Students will write a comprehensive description essay on one bird of their choice. (science, biology, language arts, writing)

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28. Greater Prairie Chicken


Students will investigate the habitat, behavior, and species health of the Greater Prairie Chicken. Why is this species symbolic of the tallgrass prairie? What is its famous courtship ritual? (See video or try to observe in person). What threats have reduced its numbers? What land management practices are being developed to help bring it back? How are pasture burning practices relevant here? How is the Greater Prairie Chicken used in eco-tourism? How have artists and photographers focused on this species? Students will write an informative essay describing the Greater Prairie Chicken habitat and behavior, and efforts to preserve and increase the species. Students will photograph or create a drawn or painted portrait of a male booming Prairie Chicken. (science, biology, art, photography, illustration; language arts, writing)

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29. Climate, Grazing & Fire


Students will identify the causes and effects of the three primary ecological processes that have shaped the natural character of the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie: climate, grazing and fire. What is the role of each? What aspects of the ecosystem depends upon their processes? Students will write a cause and effect paper describing these 3 processes. (science, biology, ecology, earth science; language arts, writing)

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30. Biodiversity


Students will examine the concept of biodiversity within remaining intact tallgrass prairie. What does biodiversity mean? How diverse are Flint Hills grasses, legumes, insects, mammals, birds, aquatic life forms? Students will write an evaluation paper describing the health of the tallgrass prairie in their area based upon the concept of biodiversity. (science, biology, ecology, language arts, writing)

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31. Ecosystem Services of the Tallgrass Prairie Ecosystem


Students will investigate ecosystem services of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem. What are “eco-services” and which does the tallgrass prairie ecosystem provide? Based on these, what arguments could be made for the economic importance of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem? At what point does future environmental health become an economic value for today? Students will write a descriptive essay telling what life in our local area would be like if the tallgrass prairie were entirely eliminated. Would it be different from anywhere else? What sights and sounds would be different? What wildlife (large and small) would be severely impacted? What ripple effects could this have? What would be the health of the water and air? What economic enterprises and cultural features in the area would be lost? Students will create a poster illustrating the ecosystem services of the tallgrass prairie. (science, ecology, social studies, economics)

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32. Prairie Regions of North America


Students will examine the characteristics of the 3 prairie regions of North America. Why are these areas different? What are the characteristics of their climate and soil? What different species of grasses typically grow in these areas? Historically, what was the extent of each region? Students will create a 3 column chart of the different features of these three regions (science, biology, social studies, geography)

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33. Extent of the Tallgrass Prairie


Students will compare the historic extent of the tallgrass prairie to remaining areas - recognizing the Flint Hills as the major remnant, study the minimum dynamic threshold sizes for a functional tallgrass prairie ecosystem, analyze maps featuring these areas, and evaluate their local county within these thresholds. (science, biology and ecology, social studies, geography)

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34. Fragmentation of the Prairie


Students will define fragmentation of the prairie and explore the major economic forces contributing to the degradation or removal of tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills. What human-imposed structures and activities separates areas of tallgrass prairie? Are there ways that development can be structured to minimize fragmentation? Students will write a problem-solution essay summarizing the threat of fragmentation in their local area and what might be done to prevent it. (science, biology, ecology, language arts, writing)

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35. Impact of Fragmentation On Wildlife


Students will explore the damaging impact of fragmentation on wildlife. What size landscape is required for various species of Flint Hills wildlife? How many of these large landscapes remain? What dangers do human-imposed structures such as highways present to animals attempting to cross them (and possibly danger also to humans)? What wild species are affected when prairie is lost to woody invasion? How have wildlife adapted? What species have been lost? How will future urbanization affect the wildlife and plant life of the tallgrass prairie? Which animals are affected? Does this affect plant life also? Choose one large native mammal and write a summary of its territorial needs. (science, biology, zoology)

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36. "Go Back" Pastures


Students will compare “go back” pastures - areas of early plowing - to intact prairie. What are the differences in plant species and in soil composition? Why and when did people plow these areas to begin with? What was the local population in your county during this era, and then after it? What architectural remains, such as stone house ruins, attest to this period of settlement? How and why were these early farmers unsuccessful? How much soil was lost in these areas? Students will use photography to portray the difference between “go back” land and native prairie. Students will explore concepts of biological “succession” and compare lists of plants dominant in “go back land” and “native prairie. Students will write a historical sketch describing the folly of early farming on upland areas of the Flint Hills. (science, biology, botany; social studies, history; language arts, writing)

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37. Prairie Restoration


Students will investigate the process of prairie restoration. How can landowners restore tallgrass prairie that has been plowed or destroyed on their land? How much does it cost and how long does it take? Students will write a restoration plan for a local area of land. (science, biology, botany; career, agriculture and technology, agronomy)

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38. Woody Invasion


Students will investigate the impact of woody invasion on the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie. How great a threat is woody invasion to the remaining prairie? What trees and shrubs are most aggressive? What can be done to alleviate this problem? How hard is it to stop? Why might some landowners prefer woody invasion? Why is this threat increasing? Will landowners act in time? What do you predict will occur in the next 25-50 years? Students will write a problem-solution essay on the major threat of woody invasion in the Flint Hills. (science, biology, agronomy)

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39. Recreational Landowners Who Intentionally Encouraging Invasion of Woody Species


Students will explore the increasingly popular management practices of some recreational landowners who intentionally encouraging invasion of woody species. What does this do to increase their deer and other game species? Why? What areas do deer and other game prefer? What could be the long-term effects of this type of land management on the prairie ecosystem? Students will write a newspaper article encouraging recreational landowners to limit woody invasion and preserve open prairie and the native wildlife that depend on it. (science, biology, zoology; language arts, writing)

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40. Research Historical Woodlands & Which Trees Were Native to the Flint Hills


Students will research historical woodlands and which trees were native to the Flint Hills. Historically, what species grew locally, in what sorts of environments did they grow, and how could they survive there? Why were there so few trees in early days? How were they used by early peoples? What happened to some of these large native groves when settlers came? How widespread are these native trees today? What non-native (exotic/introduced/invasive) tree species are in the Flint Hills now? Which tree species are most aggressive? Who is the State Forester and what services does he provide to landowners? Students will prepare a field guide-type entry for one native Flint Hills tree species, including leaf type, seed/nut, etc. (science, biology, social studies, history)

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41. Prescribed Burning


Students will describe the chemical and biological effects of prescribed burning on Flint Hills’ plant communities. How does burning change the soil chemistry? Why doesn’t burning contribute to climate change - what happens to the carbon that is released? What invasive species are controlled by fire? Which are not? Why? Why is it important to have adequate soil and plant moisture before burning? What are pros and cons of different frequency-of-burning: one-year, two-year, three-year, etc.? How is timing important in burning for plant and animal species? What are the benefits of a “mosaic” of plant cover for prairie chickens? What is patch burning? Why is later burning more effective in controlling woody invaders (after they have begun to leaf out)? What human factors are reducing burning as a practice? How can we visually identify areas that are not being burned by analyzing the plant growth forms and presence of trees? What is the future of these areas? What are the air quality and health issues resulting from burning? What regulations have been created to minimize these problems? Students will write a persuasive newsletter article to encourage ranchers to burn their pastures. Students will write a newspaper article for urban areas to explain the reason for burning pastures. Students will create a brochure regarding smoke management and air quality concerns for ranchers and urban dwellers. (science, chemistry, biology, earth science, career, agriculture and technology and agronomy, language arts, writing)

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42. Major Exotic & Invasive Species


Students will identify ecosystem imbalances due to major exotic and invasive species such as the zebra mussel and Serecia Lespedeza and Old World Bluestem (Yellow Bluestem and Caucasian Bluestem). Where did these species come from? How are they spreading? How can we identify the Serecia Lespedeza plant? How great a threat is this to the remaining prairie and water resources? Students will write a newspaper article persuading landowners to identify and control Serecia Lespedeza on their land. (science, biology, zoology; language arts, writing)

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43. Noxious Weeds


Students will investigate the issue of “noxious weeds.” Where did these plants come from? How do they spread? What governmental agency decides that a plant is a noxious weed and what are their criteria? What governmental agency is responsible for controlling them on public lands? By what methods can these weeds be eliminated? What plant species in your local area are listed? What is the responsibility of a landowner if noxious weeds invade his/her property? What is the impact on neighboring landowners if weeds are not controlled? Are there any legal penalties to a landowner for failure to control noxious weeds? Students will create a poster illustrating the various noxious weeds. (science, biology, chemistry, zoology; social studies, government)

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44. Invasion of Eastern Red Cedar Trees


Students will explore the impact of the invasion of Eastern Red Cedar trees in the Flint Hills. Why is this species considered by some to be the biggest threat to the remaining tallgrass prairie? How fast does it grow? What is the source of its seeds spreading, and how quickly and easily does it spread? How much water does it consume? Does this have a significant impact on Flint Hills water sources? What is the impact of Eastern Red Cedar on the viability of tallgrass prairie? What is the impact on native wildlife habitat - what likes to live in solid cedar stands? Do you see small sprouts of this species in your area? How big will they be in 20 years if allowed to grow? What will happen to the prairie grass around them? Are cedars hard to eliminate? By what non-chemical means can the sprouts be killed? What are the reasons for its rapid invasion into so many areas of the Flint Hills? What does urban development and reduction of burning have to do with it? Why are landowners allowing them to invade their property? What does the allowing the increase of more and more cedars do to the probability of their seeds invading all the remaining tallgrass prairie? Should this species be declared a noxious weed? What would be the impact of that? Students will research the water consumption of Eastern Red Cedars, and quantify the impact on local water resources. Students will write a brochure to be sent out to all owners of remaining tallgrass prairie informing them of the importance of controlling this aggressive species. See video: “Invasion of the Water Snatchers” (15 min.)  (science, biology, geology, language arts, communication; math)

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45. Chemistry & Economics of Herbicides


Students will examine the chemistry and economics of herbicides used to control Serecia Lespedeza, undesirable increasers, and woody invaders. Why are some more effective than others? How much do they cost landowners to use, relative to the value of the land, or its potential annual earnings, per acre? What regulations control the use and application of herbicides? What professional applicators are in your area? How much work do they have and how many employees? How do they prevent hazards of this occupation? Students will create a chart of herbicides, their chemical process, and the plants they are used to control. Students will write a description of the business of professional herbicide application. Students will determine the percentage of cost of herbicide application relative to annual per acre earnings and land value, and write a report of their findings. (science, chemistry, agronomy and biology, business, math)

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46. Climate Change in the Flint Hills


Students will investigate potential impacts of climate change in the Flint Hills. What is climate change? Students will review the carbon cycle and how it is involved in climate change. What causes climate change? What are the predictions of impact of changing climate in the tallgrass prairie ecosystem? What will be the effect of extreme weather events such as prolonged drought? What overall changes in temperature will occur and how will this affect growth patterns? How will plants and animals be able to adapt to this rapid change? What is the overall prediction globally of extinctions which may occur as a result of climate change? In the Flint Hills, which species will be winners and which will be losers? What disruptions in the prairie ecosystem will occur? Students will choose one organism - plant or animal, that they think will be affected, examine its needs, growth patterns, seasonal cycles, and create an outline predicting the future effects and outlook for this organism. (science, biology, ecology, earth science)

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47. Geologic History


Students will explore the geologic history of the Flint Hills. What was the inland sea? What organisms lived in it? What fossils of their remains are found in your area? Students will create an outline of facts about the inland sea. Or, students will write an informative essay describing the inland sea. (science, geology)

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48. Main Rock Types


Students will identify the main rock types in the Flint Hills. How were they formed? How do they affect the landscape of the Flint Hills? What are the commercial and industrial uses of these rocks? How does this benefit the local economy? What is the impact on the prairie environment? Students will create a power-point presentation on local geology in their area. (science, geology, career, agriculture and technology, construction; social studies, geography, economics)

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49. Local Soils


Students will examine the local soils in their area through the Natural Resources Conservation Service mapping and soil survey. Why is soil important? What soils are most common in your area? What formed those soils? What crops and land uses are best for each soil? What is soil erosion and soil conservation? Why has soil conservation historically been a large issue in the Great Plains. What are best management practices to conserve soil? What is a “range site” and what are the different kinds in your area? Students will create a Powerpoint presentation explaining soil types, formation, and critical management issues to conserve this most critical resource (science, geology, career, agriculture and technology, agronomy)

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50. Oil & Gas Production


Students will research and compare the economic and ecological impact of energy development in the Flint Hills in the area of oil and gas production. What formed the oil and gas resources in the Flint Hills? In what underground geologic layers are they located? The Kansas Geologic Survey provides geologic, water survey, oil and gas, and mineral information for Kansas. What can you learn about oil and gas development from their website? What are the short-term and long-term ecological costs and economic benefits of oil production? What are best management practices to reduce surface damage on oil leases? What local businesses rely on oil production in the area? How many local long-term jobs are dependent upon oil industry? What is a petroleum engineer: how are they trained and what do they do? What field of earth science will they study? What are the two types of income from oil production: what is the difference between a “working interest” and a “royalty interest”? What type of property is a “mineral right” vs. surface ownership? How do local governments tax oil producers? How significant is this source of public revenue? What were some of the problems of early day oil production methods? Can damaged areas be restored? What governmental agencies regulate oil production today? What sorts of concerns do they address? What water quality issues do they monitor? What are penalties for violating environmental regulations? What is the impact of oil production fields on the landscape? What are the connections between ecology and economics? Why are these energy issues complex when considered on a local and global scale? Students will visit the Kansas Geological Survey website which provides geological, water resource, oil and gas, and mineral information for Kansas. Students will create a chart of the costs and benefits of this form of energy production. (science, geology, ecology, social studies, economics, business)

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51. Current Issues Involving Production & Consumption of Oil


Students will further investigate past and current issues involving production and consumption of oil: economic cycle - price swings and impact on local economy; wastewater injection and incidence of earthquakes; surface damage on oil leases; climate change and burning of fossil fuels, etc. How long will Flint Hills oil resources last? What energy conservation measures can help reduce consumption to save some nonrenewable resources for future generations? Students will write an argumentative (persuasive) essay regarding a controversial issue involving production or consumption of oil (science, geology, ecology, social studies, economics)

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52. Industrial Wind Development


Students will research the economic and ecological impact of energy development in the Flint Hills in the area of industrial wind development. How do wind turbines work? What are the short-term and long-term ecological costs and economic benefits? What are the ecological advantages of wind energy within in the larger context of climate change? What are the ecological disadvantages of wind developments and how are these related to siting decisions (where to put them)? Some recommend wind projects should be sited on “brownfields” (abandoned or underused industrial land) or on previously disturbed lands; excluding wind development from sensitive areas. Where are the current Flint Hills developments sited? Were these previously disturbed areas, or were they intact native prairie? Why did Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius urge developers to voluntarily restrain from putting wind energy projects in the Flint Hills? How large are wind turbines and bases? How deep do they go into the ground - what is the volume of cement and steel in the earth? How does this affect underground water resources? Could these areas be restored to their former natural state? How much surface area of prairie is lost? What is the impact on wildlife? Why are birds at special risk? What is the impact on the larger landscape: from how far away are turbines visible? How does this impact local potential for eco-tourism (people wanting unspoiled natural horizons); what is the effect on neighboring land values? Who gains and who loses? How many long-term local jobs are generated? Are these developments subsidized by taxpayers? How much local tax do they pay? What are the connections between ecology and economics? Why are these energy issues complex when considered on a local and global scale? Students will create a chart of the costs and benefits of this form of energy production. (science, biology, ecology, business, social studies, economics, career, agriculture and technology, industrial production)

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53. Water Treatment


Students will explore the chemical and physical processes of their local water treatment plant. Where does our water come from? How is our water purified for drinking? What impurities are removed? Which might remain? What hazardous chemicals are utilized in the area? What regulations prevent these from entering the local drinking water supply? What are “acceptable limits” of certain impurities in drinking water? Examine a case study of a community whose water supply was contaminated: what biological and/or chemical substances were responsible and by what margin did they exceed acceptable limits? Students will create an outline of the process of water treatment in their area. See also Social Studies - Water Quality and Quantity activities (science, chemistry, physics)

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54. Biomimicry Perennial Polyculture


Biomimicry - what is it? How does perennial polyculture mimic the prairie? How can humans someday revolutionize modern agriculture and conserve soil, water and energy through “natural systems agriculture?” Students will read and write a summary of how plant breeders at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas are working to create the first perennial crops for the tallgrass prairie. (science, biology, ecology, career, agriculture and technology, agronomy, language arts, reading, writing)

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55. Observation of the Night Sky


Students will explore observation of the night sky in the Flint Hills. What is observable with just a pair of binoculars? With a smaller telescope? How and why does the location of stars change in the sky as the night goes on? Which planets, stars, and star clusters can you identify? How do constellations assist in identification? Where is the Milky Way, and what is its orientation at the time of your observation? Students will create a sky map of 5 constellations they have identified, specifying the date and time of observation. Students will research and write a summary of facts about one planet and one star they have located and observed. Students will write a poem or create a painting to illustrate the beauty of the night sky. (science, astronomy, writing, art)

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56. Light Pollution & Relative Darkness of the Flint Hills


Students will identify the sources of “light pollution” in Kansas, and determine the relative darkness of the Flint Hills. Where are the darkest areas? Why is this region so attractive to astronomers and amateur star-gazers? What might be the opportunities for eco-tourism in this area? What kinds of outdoor lighting can reduce light pollution? Do we have any organizations of astronomers and amateur star-gazers? How does the Symphony in the Flint Hills encourage people to take up star-gazing? Students will identify good locations for dark skies in their area, and write a letter to an astronomy or science organization, inviting astronomers and amateur star-gazers to their community to view the skies. (science, astronomy, writing)

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57. Interpret a Quotation About the Tallgrass Prairie & Fire


Students will interpret a quotation about the tallgrass prairie and fire. Explore the quotations section in this website’s Flint Hills Information Resources on the Tallgrass Prairie and Fire. What is your favorite quote? Why do you think it is true? Why do you think the author wrote it? What does it mean? Write a personal response paragraph interpreting the main point of the quotation. (science, biology, agriculture, agronomy, language arts, reading, writing)

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58. Interpret a Quotation About Soil & Water Conservation


Students will interpret a quotation about soil and water conservation. Explore the quotations section in this website’s Flint Hills Information Resources on Conservation. What is your favorite quote? Why do you think it is true? Why do you think the author wrote it? What does it mean to you personally? Write a personal response paragraph interpreting the main point of the quotation. (science, earth science, biology, language arts, reading, writing)

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