Students will use observation and deductive reasoning skills to find objects at the sand dunes that are the result of animals' interactions with the environment.
Scientists use observation and deductive reasoning skills to learn about nature. Through observation, scientists can learn about character traits, identify relationships, understand behaviors, etc. With deductive reasoning, scientists can delve deeper into these findings by applying universal laws. For example, if one observes a track in the sand, we can deduce that an animal made that track, because tracks are almost always made by animals.
In this activity, student groups will be searching for a) strict observations, "Observations," and b) observations that were deduced through reasoning, "Evidence." This activity is especially good for the sand dunes because the dunes seem void of wildlife.
Explore Great Sand Dunes' web pages on animals to learn more about the creatures who may leave tracks in the sand or other evidence of their presence.
Hand lenses (optional), clipboards, pencils, Wildlife Scavenger Hunt (PDF)
Divide the students into groups. Each group receives a Wildlife Scavenger Hunt worksheet. (A first through second grade Wildlife Scavenger Huntworksheet is available for younger students.)
Establish a well-defined boundary in which students must stay during the scavenger hunt. Once they find an item they are to describe it in detail on the worksheet. Younger students may draw what they find in the boxes provided. Be sure students label what they draw.
When engaged in this activity, caution children not to hurt any animals or damage their homes. They should not pull leaves, thorns, or anything off of a living plant (or animal).
Discuss with your students the concepts of making strict observations and of making conclusions through deductive reasoning. How do observations and conclusions through reasoning differ? How are they the same?