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Bluff Lake Explorers Webquest

For Grades 3-5


By Debbie Livingston

[email protected]



Welcome Bluff Lake Explorers!You will be arriving at Bluff Lake next week to explore the plants and animals living in the different habitats at the urban wildlife refuge.Between now and then, there is much work to be done.As Bluff Lake Explorers, you will need to equip yourselves with the proper tools and information to be successful at tracking and recording wildlife.You will learn how to create a Nature Journal, which is the tool of choice among Bluff Lake Explorers.Also, the Bluff Lake wildlife is very sneaky!The animals are well adapted to life in the city and can remain very well camouflaged to the casual observer to ensure their own survival.Therefore, Bluff Lake Explorers must learn to look deeper for the clues that wildlife leaves behind.To become a �Sherlock Holmes of Bluff Lake,� you must learn as much as you can about the animals and their habitats.


The Task

Naturalists will meet your Explorers Teams at Bluff Lake on the day of your field trip.However, you need to be warned that on some days the Bluff Lake Naturalists find so many exciting clues and signs of wildlife in the habitats there, that they become speechless.The condition is only temporary and it is known as �Bluff Lake got your tongue?�In case this condition should strike the Naturalists on the day of your visit, as Bluff Lake Explorers you must be prepared to teach fellow students about the different animals and habitats at Bluff Lake.This will not be a problem for you, because there are many wonderful resources available over the Internet to teach you about the local wildlife that you may encounter at Bluff Lake.


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The Process

1.                As a Bluff Lake Explorer, you must begin to prepare for your adventure by learning more about Bluff Lake Nature Center.

So, read the Bluff Lake Information and then view the Bluff Lake Photos.

Note:After you view a website link, mouse click on the Back Arrow at the top left of the page.This will return you to your place in this Webquest.



2.                After you have finished reading about Bluff Lake, your teacher will assign you to an Explorers Team to get ready for your trip to Bluff Lake.Your team will then work in pairs to conduct research on the wildlife and habitats at Bluff Lake.


3.                Before beginning your research, each person will need to prepare a Nature Journal.To do so, go to the front of the classroom to collect your materials: 1 piece of colored cardstock and 4 white sheets.Fold all sheets in half to form a booklet (see sample) then staple edges.


*When you return to your seat, write your name in the lower right of the front cover.Also, write the title of your journal on the front cover: Bluff Lake Nature Journal.



Read the Create a Nature Journal instructions carefully and follow along as you read the tasks below.

Go to Create a Nature Journal and print form. Use this to make sure that you include the necessary information in your nature journal.




5.                Now that you know how to record your research, click on the following links for general information about each of the two habitats that you will be visiting at Bluff Lake.


Prairie Habitat�������������������������� ������ Wetland Habitat (Pond)

Note:read only the short paragraph and view the pond diagram.


Note: read only the four sections with red headings.





6.                Now, you are ready to begin your animal research.Your teacher will assign each pair the names of two animals that live at Bluff Lake.One will be found in a prairie habitat and the other in a wetland habitat.���� �������������


7.                Click on the links below to find out information about your specific prairie and wetland animals.


Prairie Animals�������������������� Wetland Animals

������ Rabbit���������������������������������� Beaver

Mouse���������������������������������� Frog

������ Ant������������������������������������� Mallard Duck

������ Grasshopper��������������������������� Great Blue Heron

������ Badger��������������������������������� Mosquito

Coyote��������������������������������� Water Strider

Prairie Dog����������������������������� Painted Turtle

Red Fox�������������������������������� Raccoon

Red-tailed Hawk������������������������ Crayfish

Bull Snake������������������������������ Dragonfly

Mule Deer������������������������������ Muskrat

������ Golden Eagle��������������������������� Bald Eagle

������ Western Meadowlark������������������� Tiger Salamander

������ Great Horned Owl���������������������� Little Brown Bat


8.                Using your nature journal entries and your research, prepare your oral talk about your animals.This is a one-minute summary of your animal and habitat research to be presented to your Bluff Lake Naturalist and Explorers Team during your nature tour at Bluff Lake.Be sure to look around at the Bluff Lake habitats when you arrive and include in your talk where you would expect to find your animals at Bluff Lake.Be ready to identify distinguishing features of each habitat such as dry soils or dense vegetation.Practice your oral talk in your pairs.Prepare your �stumper� facts in question form and present them during your oral talk.


Note: make sure you find out where in the habitat each animal finds its food, water, shelter, and space (the essential habitat components). This is important information to help you lead the Bluff Lake tour.







9.��� By now you have prepared your Bluff Lake Nature Journal and you know a lot about the habitats and wildlife at Bluff Lake.But how will you know the animals are living at Bluff Lake if you cannot see them?�� To answer this question, please view a professional nature journal entry.You will read how a scientist uses her nature journal and her research about animals to locate visual clues of the animals in their habitats.Continue to work in pairs.Select 2 animal track links from the listing below.Each partner should view one link.


Raccoon Tracks���� Beaver Tracks������ Coyote Tracks ��� Rabbit Tracks��� Fox Tracks


Note:Bluff Lake Explorers will look for animal clues along the trail such as animal tracks in mud or snow, animal scat, or evidence of shelter.





10.�� Draw and label the track (footprint) of the animal on a remaining page in your journal.Read the �Natural History� of the animal.Record any information about �signs� this animal leaves behind in its habitat that will let you know that your particular animal lives at Bluff Lake, such as scat or other markings.Draw the �scat� (animal droppings) of the animal if available.


11.�� Share your drawings of tracks, scat, and other signs with your partner and Explorers Team, if time, so that your team will be ready to discover animal and habitat clues at Bluff Lake.

Bluff Lake Explorers, bring your Nature Journal to Bluff Lake with you!It is your tool to help you find wildlife clues and learn about the animals in their habitats at Bluff Lake.






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��� ��� ��� ��� ��� ��� ��� ��� ��� ��� ��� ��� ���



1.��� After your Bluff Lake field trip, return to one of the nature journal links.


Raccoon Tracks���� Beaver Tracks������ Coyote Tracks ��� Rabbit Tracks��� Fox Tracks


2.��� Read the �Personal Notes� section at the end of the journal entry.��


3.                Complete your journal with your own �Personal Notes� section on the back page.Record one to two paragraphs about your Bluff Lake experience and your favorite animal or habitat sightings.

This entry should include both facts and personal thoughts about your experience such as:


         Did the prairie and wetland habitats at Bluff Lake look as you expected from your research?


         Did you see wildlife or animal clues?Were they where you predicted you would find them in your oral talk?


         Draw or write what you saw.


         Write about how you felt as a Bluff Lake Explorer.



4.                Complete the Self-Evaluation Form: print Self-Evaluation Form, fill it in, and turn it in to your teacher.Include your Nature Journal for your teacher to copy if necessary.Go to Self Evaluation Form


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Watch out Crocodile Hunter, here comes the Bluff Lake Explorers!You have successfully completed the research necessary to understand that different animals live in different habitats.You have prepared an important tool to help you search for wildlife at Bluff Lake and record your findings: a Nature Journal.You have prepared an oral talk about a prairie and a wetland animal to teach your Explorers team members where to locate your animals at Bluff Lake.You have researched different animal signs to search for such as tracks, scat, and various shelters.You have applied your research by experiencing first hand the animals and habitats at Bluff Lake.You have reflected on your Bluff Lake experience through Personal Notes to complete your Nature Journals.Finally, you have provided valuable feedback to the Bluff Lake Nature Center Staff via the Self-Evaluation Form to help improve the Bluff Lake experience for future Bluff Lake Explorers.Happy Trails!See you at Bluff Lake!



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Teacher Page

This Bluff Lake Explorers Webquest was developed in part to show that technology could be used to enhance informal science experiences.Also, the Webquest was developed to further prepare students for their outdoor lesson at Bluff Lake.The Bluff Lake Explorers Webquest addresses our program standards (Science benchmarks 3.1.3 and 3.1.4) and Information Literacy Standards 1, 3, 7, & 9.Students are assessed to the standards in many ways throughout the entire Bluff Lake program.In this lesson, however, the student Self-Evaluation is designed to provide the Bluff Lake education staff with qualitative feedback about the lesson so that we can determine if it is a valuable addition to our program.


Prepared students are ready to learn!At Bluff Lake Nature Center, we wish to equip students with all the necessary tools for learning in a unique outdoor learning environment.The Bluff Lake Explorers Webquest is yet another important tool.If used properly, students will develop a deeper understanding of the interrelationship between plants and animals and the essential components of habitats in the classroom, and therefore will feel more comfortable and be more open to learning during the field experience at Bluff Lake.


For more information about Bluff Lake Nature Center or to schedule a Bluff Lake Education Program, go to or call (303) 393-7700 ext. 403.




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PRINT THIS FORM!������ ���������������������������� return





Grade:______Field Trip Date:_________________________


Self-Evaluation��������������������� Circle One: YES������������� NO

Did you use your nature journal at Bluff Lake?


Did you present your oral talk about your animals and their habitats to your Naturalist and Explorers Team?


Did you �stump� your Bluff Lake Nature Guide with any of the questions you prepared about your two animals?


Did you discover any of your animals while exploring Bluff Lake?


Did you complete the �Personal Notes� section of your journal after your Bluff Lake field trip?


If you think your �Personal Notes� are well written and interesting, please send a copy to the Bluff Lake Nature Center Staff.


Nature Journaling can be done anywhere you wish to explore like your backyard, the schoolyard, or a local park.Will you use this tool the next time you go exploring?


Would you like to go exploring at Bluff Lake again?



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Create a Nature Journal


Your journal should contain the following sections:


Section I:���������� Prairie

Section II:�������� Wetland

Section III:��������������� Stumper Questions

Section IV:�������� Tracks and Other Animal Signs

Section IV:�������� Personal Notes


Section I: Prairie

         Write 3 facts about the prairie that will help you to recognize it by sight when you arrive at Bluff Lake.

         Answer the following questions about your Prairie animal:

(1)            What does it look like?

(2)            What does it eat?

(3)            What eats it?

(4)            Where does it find shelter?

         Write down 1 additional fact that is unique to that animal or interesting to you.

         Illustrate your animal.


Section II:Wetland

Repeat all the steps listed under Section I for your Wetland animal.


Section III:Stumper Questions

Rewrite your unique or fascinating facts for each animal as questions. Use them during the field trip in your oral talk to try to �stump your Bluff Lake Naturalist�.A nature prize will be given to all students that successfully outsmart their guide.


Section IV:Tracks and Other Animal Signs

Follow the links to draw an animal�s tracks and record other important �clues� to help discover an animal in its habitat.


Section IV: Personal Notes

Complete this section after your field trip to Bluff Lake.Please write in 1 or 2 paragraphs your personal thoughts and experiences as a Bluff Lake Explorer.

Return to The Process #5


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