Ferret It Out Problem-Based Learning Unit

A Problem about Endangered Species and Animal Ecosystems

By Shelagh A. Gallagher, Ph.D., Dana L. Plowden

NAGC Curriculum Award-Winner!

The black-footed ferret is the most endangered mammal in the United States. In this PBL unit, students are placed in the role of members of a recovery team whose job it is to assess whether Fort Collins, Colorado, is an appropriate site to reintroduce ferrets that were bred in captivity. However, they must consider an array of potential problems that could make reintroduction difficult.

In This Series

problem based learning unit (pbl curriculum)
problem based learning unit (pbl curriculum)

Description

National Association for Gifted Children Curriculum Award-Winner!

The black-footed ferret is the most endangered mammal in the United States. Students are placed in the role of members of a recovery team whose job it is to assess whether Fort Collins, Colorado, is an appropriate site to reintroduce ferrets that were bred in captivity.

During the unit, students must consider the interdependence of the ferrets with the population of prairie dogs and the antagonism of ranchers toward them. They have to calculate how many prairie dogs are essential for the survival of the black-footed ferret, and they must consider the rights of homeowners and ranchers against the survival of the mammal. They must take into account what may be causing ferret decline, including the problem of a genetic bottleneck. In the end, they must come to a decision about the problem and then try to persuade others to their point of view. Through the course of the unit, students will learn about biomes, habitats, and human-animal interaction, as well as the complex issues that are involved and the conflicts of interests posed by trying to save the black-footed ferret from extinction.

Details

Curriculum
Problem-Based Learning
Ages
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, Teachers & Schools
Grades
5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Subjects
Science, Problem-Based Learning, Problem-Solving
Downloadable Materials
Yes

Reviews

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