Fermilab Teacher Resource Center sciencelines

Ed Home (text) - TRC Home - sciencelines Index

Special Prairie Events and Resources

School and Fermilab Prairie Data

Fermilab is putting prairie and bird data on the Web so it can be accessed by the general public, especially students and teachers. This project is funded in part by a Challenge Grant awarded to Wheaton-Warrenville Community Unit School District 200. The Illinois Ecosystems Project enhances the current curriculum in grades 4-6. In particular, Fermilab is working with 12 fifth-grade teachers to emphasize engaged learning activities through its existing prairie programs and a new Website.

Currently there are three types of data available:

Student Quadrat Study Data
Prairie Plants at Fermilab
Birds at Fermilab

These can be accessed from the Prairie Links page on the Education Server at:

The Student Quadrat Study Data includes approximately 160 Excel spreadsheets of data taken by students coming to Fermilab for the Particles and Prairies programs from 1992 to 1997. Each class spreadsheet combines up to ten quadrat data sheets where the students have recorded the number and percent cover of selected prairie plants and weeds/non-native plants in a meter square of prairie at Fermilab. The class sheet data is available by school name and date taken. Also included with each year's data is an annual summary spreadsheet and plots of the importance values of each plant found. The importance value gives an indication of the health of the particular plant relative to the others. Also calculated is the prairie plant and weed diversity. As the prairie gets older, we want to see the plant diversity increase and weed diversity decrease. The plot of prairie plant and weed diversity from 1992-1997 using the student data shows such a trend. To access this data, you must have Excel 4 or higher on your computer. Teachers and students will be able to use the power of Excel to manipulate and plot the data.

The Prairie Plant data is a searchable database of plants found at Fermilab. It is a Web-based version of the Plants HyperCard Stack provided with the Particles and Prairies videodisc and software, developed in 1992. For the past few months, we have been working with Mike Becker of Fermilab and prairie specialist, Dr. Robert Betz, on updating this data to reflect the current state of Fermilab prairie plants. Some of the pictures of the prairie plants are not available yet. The data includes the plant's common name, scientific name, family, plant type, flower color(s), height, blooming months, habitat, growth pattern, how common it is and in the next version, whether it is native or non-native. Here is a record for the New England Aster.

The Bird Data represents surveys of Fermilab birds from 1987 to the present. This database is maintained by Peter Kasper, a Fermilab physicist and ornithologist. It includes information on the months of the year birds are spotted at Fermilab and their breeding habits. It is a rich site with lots of links to interesting information on birds. It was named a Magellan 4-Star site


The activity, "Go with the Flow" is included with permission from Destination Cinema. The activity is from Yellowstone: An Educational Resource for Teachers which was developed in conjunction with the production of Yellowstone, a film produced with Imax technology for the National Park and museums.

The film beautifully shows the history and culture of Yellowstone. The admiration and respect for nature of the Native American tribe, Tukudikas, is evident as well as the adventure of the discoverers of Yellowstone. Many already know that Yellowstone would become our first National Park. Seeing Old Faithful and other geysers in the film demonstrates the majesty of the park as well as the integration of sciences from physics, geology, chemistry and earth sciences to the technologies used to study these phenomena.

A VHS version of the film is available for viewing in the Teacher Resource Center. Watch for Yellowstone at an IMAX theatre near you.

Further information about Yellowstone is available on their Web site which can be reached at: http://www.destinationcinema.com.