Students can use ArcExplorer to look at real-world data and discover why desert bighorn sheep want to get to the other side of a stretch of Highway 93 between Kingman, Arizona, and Hoover Dam. "Why Did the Sheep Cross the Road," a set of instructional materials created by CIPE, was produced through a grant from the Arizona Advisory Council on Environmental Education. These materials supplement course work on the environment, desert ecology, or wildlife and is geared for students in the sixth through the tenth grades. These lessons involve a real problem-public concern over the number of desert bighorn sheep killed by automobiles along a stretch of Highway 93 and data from the Arizona Game, and Fish Department, the U.S. Geological Survey, and other state and federal agencies.
Students, divided into groups of four, play the roles of engineers and biologists and analyze factors such as the location of the sheep's food and water sources, the home ranges of individual sheep, the route the highway takes through these areas, and the area's topography. Materials are available in GIS and non-GIS versions but both versions make extensive use of maps. Students must analyze data on the behavior and requirements of Ovis canadensis nelsoni and the topography, vegetation, and infrastructure of the Lake Mead Recreation area, in order to answer the questions that accompany each lesson. They develop critical thinking skills and learn to work with others to develop solutions. By the time they have completed the lessons in Why Did the Sheep Cross the Road, each group will produce maps showing migratory corridors and food and water sources in the bighorn's habitat. Using these maps, they explore methods to reduce sheep mortality and present their findings to classmates or a panel.
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