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The Safe Zone
game where students represent migrating eagles and the dangers along
way. Data is collected and analyzed.
Guiding Question: What
does migration mean for protecting the golden eagles that
spend the breeding season in Denali National Park and Preserve?
Critical Content: The
difficulties the National Park Service faces in protecting
a species when it only spends part of the year in the park.
Duration: 30 -
Group size: 10
- 30 students
Setting: in the
gym or outdoors
pencils, cones or some other way of marking off a safety zone,
balls soft enough to throw at students, one copy of the Eagle
Population Table for the class, one copy of the Safe
Zone Worksheet for each student.
- Assign one-half of the class to be golden eagles. The rest
of the class is assigned to be some of the dangers that a golden
eagle may encounter outside of the park e.g., power lines, poisoned
food sources, human encroachment on prey habitat where eagles
hunt. If you don't have much room, you may need to start with
a higher percentage of eagles than hazards, as the eagles may
be "easy targets".
- Assign one student (or the teacher) to be the researcher and
fill out the Eagle Population Table. This
data will be used to graph the population changes after the game.
- The safety zone represents Denali National Park and Preserve.
The eagles start in the safety zone.
- When the teacher yells, "migrate", the eagles need to run to
the other side of the room or field, touch something and run back
to Denali. Once they are outside of the park the "dangers" may
throw balls at them.
- If an eagle is hit, it dies and needs to wait on the sidelines.
- Dangers throw balls until they are out, then they must collect
their balls and return to their spot.
- The eagles that make it back to the park the second time and
every "year" after may breed and a new eagle is created. To create
a new eagle, a "breeding eagle" calls the name of an
eagle that has been killed by a danger. The new eagle gets a free
walk to the safety zone.
- Before the teachers yells "migrate" each year, the designated
students should keep track of the number of eagles that have died
on the worksheet and the number that are born. The dangers must
have collected their balls and be ready to throw again.
- If after 2-4 years the eagle population is dying off or overpopulating
are not enough eagles on the sidelines to represent new eagles
readjust the percent of the class that are eagles and hazards
and/or use some of the adaptations below. Start again with a new
- Once you have 10-20 years of data students should return to
the classroom and graph the data and answer the discussion questions.
You can make copies for the students of the Eagle Population Table
or copy it to the board.
Discussion Questions: see the
Safe Zone Worksheet.
- If the class needed to start again because of overpopulation
or a population crash, what does that tell us about eagle populations
- What is extinction and what are the possible causes of extinction
(discuss both hazards and habitat requirements?
- How do hazards outside of a national park affect the population
of a migratory species that spends part of its time within a national
- How do national parks affect the population of migratory species
outside of the parks?
- What can parks and people do to help protect migratory species
when they are not in a park?
- Eagles have to pair up in order to breed (make new eagles).
- New eagles cannot breed until they are three years old - they
must make it back to the Safe Zone three times before they can
breed (Denali golden eagles do not breed until they are four or
five years old).
- In a smaller area, hazards must touch the eagles flying past,
rather than using balls, but the hazards can only pivot on one
foot, they can't move from their spot.
Extension: Write a short essay
on the difficulties of protecting migratory species.