Lesson Plan

Swift Fox Data Analysis Lab

Swift fox

Overall Rating

Add your review
Grade Level:
High School: Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
9-10.RST.8, 11-12.RST.1, 11-12.RST.7, 11-12.RST.8
State Standards:
Colorado LS 9-12
9-12.L.3.1, 9-12.N.1.1, 9-12.N.1.2
Additional Standards:
Next Generation Science: HS-LS4 Biological Evolution
4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures.
4-LS1-2. Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses.
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts. Evaluating: Make informed judgements about the value of ideas or materials. Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.


In this lesson, students will take on the role of a wildlife biologist and analyze actual 2003 swift fox translocation data from Badlands National Park. Students will work together to compile a master data sheet showing their findings.


While out and about, swift foxes must be on the look out for potential dangers. Animals like golden eagles and badgers are on the prowl for their own meals. Coyotes are usually the most pressing threat in a swift fox’s life, both hunting the foxes and competing for the same food. Living in mixed-grass prairie means foxes have a clear view of the area surrounding them. If foxes spot predators, the small canines will dive into a burrow for protection. Running is also a defense mechanism for the foxes, and the reason for their name. Clocked at about 35 mph, the swift fox can run as fast as a car travels on smaller city roads.


Teachers should reference the Teacher Background Information document, which is included in the Materials section of this lesson plan.


Download 2003 Swift Fox Data Sheets

Download Fox File Card

Download Blank 2003 Swift Fox Translocation Chart Student Sheets

Download 2003 Swift Fox Teacher Key

Download Teacher Background Information

Lesson Hook/Preview

Teacher can ask students to do a “turn and talk” to discuss what they know about swift foxes.


Step 1: Place the 2003 swift fox data sheets at separate stations around the room.

Step 2: Students should be in a location where they are able to move from one data station to another. Students will be assigned random swift fox numbers from up to 3 different foxes, depending on class size. There are 40 foxes included in the 2003 study data.

Step 3: Students will act as biologists and collect information on their specific foxes from the data tables posted around the room. Students will fill out a Fox File card for each different fox they have been assigned. Information will consist of finding the fox's gender, age, weight, capture location, capture date, date released into Badlands National Park, disease information, breeding information, mortality dates, etc. This information will then be compiled into one master list of foxes 1-40.

Step 4: Students will be responsible for contributing their Fox File information for the master data lists that students will compile, using the Blank 2003 Swift Fox Translocation Chart Student Sheets. Teachers should use the 2003 Swift Fox Teacher Key for reference.


Mortality: the state of being subject to death.
Sire: the male parent of an animal.
Dam: the female parent of an animal.
Wild born: an animal born in a natural environment.
Disease: an illness or sickness with specific, well defined symptoms.
Contagion: the passing of disease from one person to another by close contact.
Plague: a contagious disease that spreads quickly and kills many people.
Tularemia: a severe infectious bacterial disease of animals that can be passed to humans.
Parvo: any class of very small viruses that affect mainly animals.
Canine distemper virus (CDV): a viral disease of some animals, especially dogs

Assessment Materials

Exit Slip:

Ask students to choose one of the foxes that was assigned to them and write a paragraph describing the fox’s characteristics (i.e. gender, age, weight, capture location, capture date, and more) based on the data that they analyzed.

Contact Information

Email us about this lesson plan

Last updated: May 21, 2015