Winter Ecology Field Trip (Grades 3 to 5)

Grades: 3-5
Subject: Science
Skills: Observe, compare and contrast, identify, classify
Duration: 4.5 hours
Group Size: 46 students, 2 groups of 23 students
Setting: Apgar area

Summary: Students will explore the physical properties of snow completing tasks at 4-6 snow stations. They will then investigate how those physical properties impact organisms in winter by participating in a snowshoe hike.

weather station
Students explore a weather station

Objectives (Students will be able to do some or all of these depending on grade level and weather conditions):

  • Tell what national parks protect and one reason Glacier National Park was established.
  • Assemble a puzzle-map of the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem and explain why it is important that neighbors work together toward shared goals.
  • Hike independently on snowshoes, while following safety procedures for a snowshoe hike in Glacier National Park.
  • Describe, draw or act out, the 3 strategies animals use to survive winter.
  • Correctly point to or touch an evergreen tree and a deciduous tree.
  • Describe (or draw) an outside activity that includes one way a tree or a plant might change in winter. v Classify pictures of Glacier animals into groups according to which adaptation they use to survive winter: migration, hibernation, or resistance.
  • Organize animal pictures by whether they are predators or prey and build a Glacier food chain and web.
  • Correctly identify living and non-living objects on the snowshoe hike and give an example of a cause and effect relationship between them.
  • Relate the basic needs animals must have in their habitats to why there are endangered and threatened species in Glacier National Park.
  • Predict if/how the mass and volume of snow will change when brought indoors.
  • Use their body to increase heat (running, huddling, putting on more insulation).
  • Describe the relationship between the sun, heat, light, energy, and food.
  • Correctly measure and explain the existence of varying snow depths at different points along the trail.
  • Measure and compare temperatures at different depths in the snow or at different places along the trail.
  • Examine layers of snow, describe the differences, and infer what caused the layers.
  • Explain the importance of snow as a natural resource and its role in the water cycle.
  • Participate in stations to measure and record snow characteristics.
  • Name the snow structure that has been used by different cultures as a temporary shelter (quinzhee), describe how to build it, and explain why it is warmer inside than outside one.

Montana Content and Performance Standards:

MT.SCI.K-12.1 Students, through the inquiry process, demonstrate the ability to design, conduct, evaluate, and communicate results and reasonable conclusions of scientific investigations.

MT.SCI.K-12.3 Students, through the inquiry process, demonstrate knowledge of characteristics, structures and function of living things, the process and diversity of life, and how living organisms interact with each other and their environment.

Making Connections to Glacier National Park:

Glacier National Park protects habitat for plants and animals and preserves natural processes such as seasonal changes. Glacier also provides an undisturbed location to study winter ecology – the interrelationships of living things with their environment during winter.

students in Glacier

Field Trip Logistics:

Maximum group size for snowshoe hikes is 40 students. Students will stay together as one group for the introductory and closing activities. Large groups will be divided into 2 smaller groups (one class each) for the ranger-led hikes, with one ranger leading each group.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936


(406) 888-7800

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