Our Wisconsin charter school uses scientific research and project-based learning as the focus of our curriculum. Project learning is based on a constructivist model of learning that engages you in real-world scholarly activity because you get to chose topics that interest you.
Deer Survey Completion
Posted on January 16, 2013 by Abby Wood
This year at Wildlands has been a crazy one. There have been so many projects that it's been hard to keep track of what you are doing. However, I'm happy that I took up a deer survey of a local Boy Scout camp. This project is one that is started by students almost every single year, mostly as a way to get some P.E. credit and a lot of credit in field biology. So it's understandable that a lot of students wanted to join. However, this project took a turn when the news reached us that we weren't able to conduct our survey at the scout camp due to a baiting ban in that county. So as an alternative we decided to do a comparison of the deer population on the reserve with another patch of land that has been hunted on for many years. Sadly, this plan fell through as well because it was so close to hunting season. So we ended up surveying just the reserve.
The first step was to learn how to use the Cuddeback cameras. Then we split the land into sites and assigned two or three students to each site. Their job was to set out a camera, keep the corn pile filled, and load the pictures onto their computers for further use. We surveyed the deer for two weeks checking our sites almost every day. After the two weeks were over we had over 200 pictures to sort through. Each team was responsible for going through their data, pulling out all of the repeats, sorting the pictures by the dates that they were taken and numbering each one.
This next part of the project is where I learned the most. Since doe aren't unique it is impossible to gain an accurate estimate of the doe population that way. The method we use requires a total number of bucks and buck pictures. To do this we had to print out all of our buck pictures and match the pictures of the same buck. However, our data was corrupted so we were left with few options. We ended up closing out the project without precise results to get the credit we had earned. Even though we didn't end up with results, the project was still a success because we learned a lot and had fun doing it.
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