Introduction & Teacher Background
High in the subalpine zone of Waterton - Glacier International Peace Park (W-GIPP), where the trees are small and scattered, lives a shrunken, plain-looking pine tree. It is called the whitebark pine, and it is the site of annual pilgrimages for Clark’s nutcrackers, red squirrels, grizzly and black bears, crossbills, blue grouse, flickers, mountain bluebirds, and many other mountain animals. Read more about the whitebark pine community...
The activities in this unit all center around the complicated relationships other animals and plants have with the whitebark pine. Many activities are very suitable for team-teaching in “block” time periods. They are all active and fun. In all cases, the effects of these ecological systems on the everyday lives of your students are the ultimate focus.
Depending on the grade level of your students, you may wish to use either the entire activity or the parts which fit your student’s level of understanding.
Activity 1: Nutcracker Fantasy
Methods: An outside "hide and retrieve" game illustrating the memory capabilities of the Clark's nutcracker.
Time: 1-2 hours
Subjects: Math, biology, economics
Activity 2: It Was a Very Good Year
Methods: Dendrochronology and climate change in whitebark pines, and art projects doing tree rings of student personal histories.
Time: 2-3 hours
Subjects: History, biology, math, art, language arts, geography
Activity 3: It's Not Easy Being Grizz
Methods: Outdoor game illustrating the calories du jour sequence for grizzlies; whitebark pine decline effects and bear relationships with squirrels.
Time: 1-2 hours
Subjects: Ecology, geography, math
Activity 4: News Bearly Fit to Print
Methods: An archival look at the times and types of bear-human conflicts (related back to whitebark pine); a visit by a bear management specialist (students construct overlay of bear-human conflict locations).
Time: 2-3 hours library homework; 2 hours plotting results plus dissussion, 1 hour plotting locations
Subjects: Social studies, biology, geography, journalism, library science
Activity 5: Subalpine Web
Methods: The classic information cards for members and yarn for connections "web game", removing keystone, whitebark pine, from the web to show effects.
Time: 1 hour
Subjects: Life science, social studies, economics