Friday afternoon, while everyone was heading out on species inventory trips, three young armadillos visited the park’s visitor center. Sometimes the species come to you!
I spoke with biologist Craig Hood about them, and their relatively new immigration to the United States from Mexico. In the video, Dr. Hood shares some surprising facts about these strange mammals.
Which gives me an idea for a sort of “reverse” Bioblitz that you might try with students: instead of having them find as many species as they can, have them find just one kind of organism— plant or animal— that lives in your area and learn as much as they can about it.
They should document their organism using photographs, drawings, video, written descriptions or even audio, if it makes a distinctive sound. Then they could prepare a presentation about what makes their species special. Some of their research can be on-line or from books, but at least some should be from original observation. Ideally, each student should cover a different organism.
Of course, just identifying their species is the first step, and that can be tricky. There are many field guides, both in print and on-line, but students may need to ask an expert for help, perhaps at a nature center or college.
If every student in class reports on one organism, and several classes participate, and you do this year after year, you'll build a fairly extensive encyclopedia of life in your area (speaking of which, The Encyclopedia of Life-- eol.org -- is a great resource for identifying and learning about species). You could put together a notebook or website with everything you find!
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