NIMBioS Outreach: Girl Scouts Identify Wildlife Tracks

Suzanne Lenhart (left) talks to area Girl Scouts about her work at NIMBioS

By examining wildlife tracks imprinted in clay, area Girl Scouts learned how to identify the animal that would have made them in a recent outreach activity led by NIMBioS at Cherokee Caverns in Knoxville.  Using materials from Biology in a Box, about 40 girls from fifth grade to college counted the toes, measured the width of the prints, looked for traces of webbing or claws and followed dichotomous keys until they arrived at the right animal name.  They were guided by Suzanne Lenhart, associate NIMBioS director of education, outreach and diversity; Kelly Sturner, NIMBioS education and outreach coordinator, and J.R. Jones, Biology in a Box production manager. After the track identification exercise, the girls also learned about identifying wildlife scat and studied sterilized scat specimens preserved in plastic boxes. The activity was part of an area Girl Scout council event where the scouts participated in a variety of  activities inspired by science and nature. The materials and activities from the wildlife identification exercise can be found in Unit 7: Backyard Naturalist in the Biology in a Box program, a series of hand-on thematic units designed to enrich K-12 science curriculum. NIMBioS partially supports this program and contributes to the development of quantitative exercises that are integrated into the biology activities.

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