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Adopting an Endangered Species

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Subject: Science, Mathematics, Language Arts, Technology

Grade Level: Fifth Grade


This project involves groups of students in an investigation of endangered species at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Students are asked to take a field trip (either virutal or actual) to discover what species are in jeopardy and what resources are in place to save the population. Students use technology to communicate with experts and research the most current statistics. The ultimate goal of the mission is to adopt an endangered species and disseminate relevant information about the species to the neighboring community. The project can be used as a model to investigate any community's endangered species and provide the community with information.

Learner Description/Environment:

The learner is an average fifth grade student (although grades four through seven could participate) including special education students following an inclusion model. Groups will be chosen randomly using a popsicle draw. Each group will consist of a recorder, a typist, a collector, a display designer and a coordinator. The recorder will be responsible for keeping a record of the group ideas, plans, and assignments. The typist will be the student who enters the components into the computer. The collector will keep a list of materials for the group presentation and web page development. The display designer will be responsible for designing the format of the charts, graphs, and web page with input from the entire group. The coordinator will make sure that the group is on track and where it should be in the timeline. The teacher should be flexible and while guiding the students, should allow them to encounter some problems and make some mistakes so they can reevaluate their strategies and find new ways to explore the issues.

Time Frame:

This project is designed to take approximately ten weeks to complete. Students will invest three forty minute periods per week to complete the activities involved in the project.

Learner Outcomes:

  • Students will investigate what species are endangered at the National Lakeshore and gather data on the species population for the last three decades including the latest statistics.
  • Students will investigate the types of changes which have occurred which contributed to the species becoming endangered.
  • Students will investiage what organizations are involved in protecting the Indiana National Lakeshore's endangered species, how they are helping protect them, and draw conclusions as to whether the current methods of protection are working.
  • Students will compose and collect data from a community awareness survey and compile the results.
  • Students will be able to post their data on endangered species in charts and graphs.
  • Students will be able to use a spreadsheet and use the computer to generate graphs and charts.
  • Structure of the Learning:


    Students will create a source of current information and data to communicate to the community and other students the current status of endangered species in the community. In order to accomplish this, we will be taking a trip to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in the spring. We will be looking for endangered species at the lakeshore for our school to adopt. The students need to determine what species are at risk, what caused them to become endangered, and what groups are involved in protecting them.


    Students will be encouraged to explore the topic in many directions beginning with the definitions of endangered species at both the local and federal levels. They will be guided to specific web sites, but prodded to explore resources that they discover on their own through the use of various search engines. (An anciliary project could be to compare the results of various search engines). The teacher will act as a co-learner and explorer in the project. Student input will be the directing factor even if it does not immediately produce the intended results.


    The students will produce an informational web page about their endangered species and the process by which they discovered it. They will also produce an informational brochure to inform the community about the endangered species in the area. These two components will be produced using computer generated materials. A culminating activity will involve an oral presentation which will be videotaped.

    Best Use of Technology:

    Students will gather the most current data and correspond with experts from various state, local and gederal government agencies. Students will use e-mail, chats, and other web sites to communicate with experts from clubs and organizations involved in the protection of endangered species. Students will use e-mail to communicate with other schools near the National Lakeshore to compare different areas along the Indiana and Illinois shore. Students will invite other classes to participate in the project and compare results. Students will participate in a continuously growing information base.


    (1) The students will participate in an informal pre and post test consisting of an oral discussion with in instructor. The instructor will rate the growth during the term of the project.

    (2) Students will keep a daily journal about the progress of their projects and their observations while doing their research.

    (3) Students will submit a summary page listing three personal insights which they developed as a result of doing their project.

    (4) Each group will do an oral presentation of their investigations which will be videotaped and reviewed by other class members.

    (5) Students will design self-assessments and use a teacher designed rubric for rating the effectiveness of other group presentations.

    (6) Students will rate the level of cooperation demonstrated by their own group members.

    Project Evaluation:

    Participating teachers will complete a survey to evaluate components of the project including the appropriateness of the time frame, the value of the field trip, the effectiveness of the group work, the level of communication with experts, and the best use of the internet. Participating teachers will fill out their own pre and post evaluations.

    Alignment with Standards:

    Illinois State Goal 11 (Science): Understand the processes of scientific inquiry and technological design to investigate questions, conduct experiments and solve problems.

    Illinois State Goal 12 (Science): Understand the fundamental concepts, principles and interconnections of the life, physical and earth/space sciences.

    Illinois State Goal 13 (Science): Understand the relationships among science, technology and society in historical and contemporary contexts.

    Illinois State Goal 10 (Mathematics): Collect, organize and analyze data using statistical methods; predict results; and interpret uncertainity using concepts of probability.

    Illinois State Goal 1 (English/Language Arts): Write to communicate for a variety of purposes.

    Illinois State Goal 4 (English/Language Arts): Listen and speak effectively in a variety of situations.

    Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

    Author(s): Sandra Baker (Guishikawa@aol.com), Winnie Ligda (WLigda@aol.com), Lynn Singleton (Taysch311@aol.com), Susan Stomp (SLStomp@aol.com)
    School: Taylor Elementary School, Chicago, Illinois
    Created: March 1, 1999 - Updated: April 25, 1999
    URL: /lincon/w99/projects/chicago/present.html