Recent Forum Posts
From categories:

Amanda Corken
Kyrstyn Ventura


Final Project: Surviving in the Wilderness


Our project is on surviving in the wilderness. We both like the outdoors and wanted to see how much students know about surviving in the wilderness because we live in a place where camping and hiking are popular. We did two activities with the students. One of them was giving students string, a rock and a safety pin or cut in half soda pop top. We asked them if they had these three items, how they thought they could make a fishing pole out of them to catch fish for food. The other activity dealt with compasses – we showed them how compasses worked and asked them why and how compasses always point north. After that, we had them make their own compass using a leaf, a magnetized needle and water – in case they were ever lost in the woods without a compass and needed to figure out how to get home. We also had posters behind the activities of poisonous berries and other dangerous plants that we talked to some of the kids that were really interested in our information. Some students got very into our activity and others would rather shoot catapults and make ice cream than learn how to survive if they are ever lost in the woods.

Conceptual Explanations
Sub-Unit: Navigation
Students will learn how to use a compass and why it points north and south due to magnets. Students will also learn how to make a compass using a magnetized needle, a leaf and stagnant water. Alternate ways of identifying north and south if lost in the wilderness include moss on rock location, sun location and shadows and students will be introduced to these.
Sub-Unit: Locating Water
Students will be able to explain how to find water in the wilderness by listening for water, heading downhill, following converging animal tracks and paying attention to prevalence of mosquitoes and other bugs. The second part to this is being able to purify the water once it is found. Students will be introduced to the bleach and iodine methods of purifying water by doing their own experiments.
Sub-Unit: Fishing
Students will explore how to make a fishing pole out of materials found in everyday backpacking materials (some materials may include shoe lace, safety pin, op tops, and rocks). Students will also learn how to catch bait to use to catch fish and what the most effective bait is that fish are attracted to the most.
Sub-Unit: Plants and berries to avoid
Students will study the plants commonly found in the wilderness and everyday life. Some dangerous plants include poison ivy, oak, and sumacs and students will learn how to identify and avoid these dangerous plants. Methods for not spreading the rashes formed by coming into contact with these dangerous plants will also be addressed. Dangerous and deadly berries will also be part of this section.

Engagement, Inquiry and End Product for Sub-Units
We will start this unit and engage our students by having them read a survival novel such as My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Another possible engagement could include a field trip into the woods with pre-set up survival stations to explore the different concepts in this unit.

Sub-Unit: Navigation
A possible engagement could be for students to work in pairs, one of them being blindfolded and spun multiple times. The student then has to use their senses to figure out where they are. Then they would switch roles, having someone non-blindfolded at all times for safety reasons. Then the teacher would lead a discussion about how the students felt and what they did to figure out where they were and how to figure out where they are going without any knowledge. This approach is primarily student lead in groups of two. Teacher will scaffold discussion and ask questions to the group as to how they felt during this activity and why they think this applies to surviving in the wilderness. The goal of this lesson is to introduce students to the experience of lost and not knowing where they are. The next part to this lesson is to introduce students to alternative ways of navigation.

Sub-Unit: Locating water
Students will be given water that is not safe to drink and will be given materials such as water testing kits, iodine, bleach, baking soda, sifters, eye dropper, etc. to experiment how to best purify the water so that it is at a safe purity level. A follow-up discussion about the safe and unsafe methods of purifying water could be talked about among the class. This approach is primarily student led – the teacher should not be involved as this is a time for the students to explore methods of purifying water. The goal of this lesson is to educate students on the protocol to safely purify water and how to test that the water is safe for drinking.

Sub-Unit: Fishing
Students will be given a variety of different materials and asked to construct a fishing pole. They will then practice fishing in a large bucket of water to see if their method of constructing a fishing pole will actually pick up an object, representing them catching a fish. This approach is primarily student led with the teacher challenging and questioning their method chosen and asking for justification. The goal of this activity is to allow the students to explore different materials possible to make a fishing pole. This will also allow the teacher to identify prior knowledge on this topic.

Sub-Unit: Plants and Berries to avoid
The students will play a memory game where the different poisonous plants and berries are pictured on each card with a description on the bottom. When the students are playing, they must read the description once they turn the card over and whoever finds the most matches at the end of the game wins. This will allow them to learn a little about each poisonous plant and berry before starting into the lesson. This approach is primarily student led in groups of no more than 4 students. The goal of this activity is to briefly introduce the physical appearance and properties of harmful berries and plants.

Sub-Unit Activities, Inquiries, Inquiry Questions, and Data Analyses
Concept: Navigation – compasses
Questions or problems: How and why do compasses work? When do people use compasses in real life? What is in a compass that pulls it north and what is pulling it in that direction?
Activity: Treasure Map – The teacher will have students create their own pirate island, naming the surrounding water and including symbols for hills, lakes, trees, etc and also placing an X where a secret treasure is buried. A compass should be drawn in the corner with the directions labeled. Students exchange treasure maps and write directions using the compass to reach the buried treasure marked with an X, taking into account all of the obstacles and hindrances on the island. Since there isn’t a lot of analyzing data in this activity, students would simply do the activity, trade with another student and see if they could figure out a correct path to the X on their treasure map. Students could then get together with their partner and discuss the path and see if there are any other paths besides the one they came up with to get to the X, of course, still using the directional N, E, S, W. The teacher should then have students use their compasses to find true north and figure out where in the classroom their treasure would be found according to their map. They should also have a discussion about magnets and what pulls the dial on a compass toward north.

Concept: Navigation – sun location
Questions or problems: How does a shadow tell time? How does the sun tell us what time it is and in what direction we are facing? How did people tell time before the clock was invented?
Activity: Sun Clock – The teacher will have students make a sun clock and go outside many times throughout the day or over a longer period of time to record the shadow the sun makes on the sun clock according to the time of day. Students will record the shadow and time of day and present their data to the class how they see appropriate. Students should also record where the sun is in the sky at the different times that the observations are taken. This could be recorded in a journal, using pictures and descriptions. A discussion about how to use the sun as a clock and also as a navigation tool when stranded in the forest will be facilitated by the teacher.
There is no specific order that these activities should be presented – they both talk about navigation. One activity is more centered on teaching students how to use a compass, and the other activity gives students a way to navigate in the wilderness if they are without a compass!

Concept: Locating water – how to find water if stranded
Question or problems: How can somebody stranded in the wilderness find water? Should you look for water up high or down low? Once you have found water, how should you store it? How long can you live without water in your system? How does finding water differ in various climates or settings (desert vs. forest)?
Activity: Water Video – Show students a video about somebody searching for water in the wilderness using a specific technique such as looking for animal tracks. Then have students form groups and research a different way to find water in the wilderness. Have them make their own instructional video to tell others how to find water using the method they picked. This should show the students actually in the wilderness and hopefully finding the water in the end. This activity is probably best done during class time so that the teacher can guide thinking and there is somebody supervising at all times while the students are in the forest. Students will present their video and reflect on their method in their journals. After watching all of the group’s videos, the teacher should lead a discussion as to the different methods of finding water and which one seemed to be the most successful and would produce the most water. Students will be evaluated on their video and method chosen, and reflection on the different methods during discussion.

Concept: Locating Water – purifying water
Question or problems: How can you turn undrinkable water into safe & drinkable water when stranded in the wilderness? What materials or chemicals should you always have with you in your wilderness survival kit in case you do get stranded? What is actually happening when water is purified?
Activity: Purifying Water – This activity is very basic and shows students the basic idea of purifying water. Students should work in groups for this activity. Have students slowly pour a small amount of cloudy water into a coffee filter into a coffee can or jar. If the water is still cloudy, pour it through a new coffee filter. The students should be able to see a ring of particles or dirt on the filters. Students should record the clearness of the water each time through descriptions and sketches until they think the water is clear enough to drink. Once each group has what they think is clear water, set them side by side of the other group’s and describe which group purified their water the best and which jar they would drink if they were really stuck in the wilderness without water. Discuss other ways that you can purify water using chemicals and explore these ways depending on the grade level of the class and the maturity level.
The Water Video activity should be done first in sequence so then the second lesson teaches students what to do once they have found a water source and how they can purify the water so that it is drinkable.

Concept: Plants and Berries
Questions: This activity will introduce students to a number of different questions on dangerous plants and berries. How do we identify poison ivy, oak, sumac and what first aid steps can be taken in order to reduce the spreading? How do we identify the dangerous and deadly berries while in the wilderness? What steps can be taken if they are ingested, what are the medical dangers that they pose? Also, what berries are safe to eat in the wilderness?
Activity: This sub-unit will be a more research-based activity. It is important for individuals to know what is safe to eat and what is not safe to eat in the wilderness. This lesson will start with the activity listed above with the plants and berries memory gave which will give the students and introduction to the dangers of eating berries and plants that you cannot positively identify. The next part of the activity will involve art and making a informational booklet. The children will be provided with a premade booklet of papers where they will be asked to research, draw a picture, and provide information on identifying and the safety steps that are to be taken if these plants are accidently ingested or come into contact with. The students will then rotate throughout the classroom to different groups and draw the picture and write the information on the plants inside it. Another activity that this informational booklet can lead to is the game that we chose to use to assess students at the end of the unit. The children will play a game where they will wear a picture or a dangerous plant or berry on their head that they do not know what it is and through a series of questions with other students they must positively identify their plant.

Concept: Fishing
Questions: How can fishing be beneficial to survival if stranded in the wilderness? What everyday hiking objects can be used to make a fishing pole? What kind of bait can be found in the wilderness and how?
Activity: This activity will be taught through trial and error. Students will be presented with different objects that they would generally have with them if backpacking or hiking in the wilderness. The object will include but are not limited to show lace, safety pins, needles, soda tabs, string, rocks, spoons, forks, and other objects like so. These objects will be presented to each table of children and they will have the opportunity to discuss and play with these objects as a whole group. They then will create a blueprint for the design of their fishing poles providing justification for their design and using proper measurements, scales, and accurate depiction of their design. This will integrate math, science, and also some art into the children’s inquiry on their design. As a group, the students will create their design our of the actual objects and we will have a competition for most useful design by doing fishing in a small pool to see who has the most success.
Activity: Another important aspect of fishing is the bait. The second part of this sub-unit will be to address the concept of fish bait. This activity will be more technology based and will involve the children accessing the Internet to use different online resources on fish bait. Websites like, provide information for all kinds of ages on what is the most successful. Students will then be provided with a list of a variety of kinds of wildernesses and they will research what kinds of baits can be found in the wilderness that will be useful to catch the fish in that particular region. They can either list their findings or make drawings on the map that show the kind of fish and what they like to eat that is found in nature.

Transdisciplinary and Pattern Opportunities
Our engagement for the unit, reading My Side of the Mountain is not only an introduction to the science unit, but it is also a literacy activity. Students can also write their own short stories, make a picture book, or write a journal about either themselves or a person stranded in the wilderness. All of our sub-units could easily be integrating into Social Studies lessons, discussing how different groups of people have survived and still survive in the wilderness without modern resources. A lesson about how indigenous people in other countries and climates survive off the land could also be part of a Social Studies lesson. Art could also be incorporated into these lessons by looking at artists who depict life in the wilderness or exploring ancient cave drawings, etc. Patterns of how humans interact with nature and how humans can rely on nature for survival can be discussed. Also, an interesting question to pose to students is how we would survive without the simple aspects of nature, such as a leaf and water, when stranded in the wilderness. There are plenty of patterns in each lesson of our unit that the students could explore and talk about in more depth.

Sub-Unit: Navigation
Students will be taken on a field study into the woods where they don’t know which way is north or south and in groups would have to use the methods they learned to figure out which way is north. The teacher will assess their students by the correctness of the methods they used and whether or not they figured out which way was north. Students could keep a journal of their methods and guess for ease of assessment. Teacher could assess students during this activity by asking probing questions that would get them to think about the different strategies of finding north. The teacher could also present scenarios to the groups, such as “what if there is no moss on the rocks, how else could you locate north?”

Sub-Unit: Locating Water
During the field study previously mentioned, students will be given unsafe drinking water that they must purify using the methods they learned in the lessons. Students will be given a hypothetical situation and will be expected to identify the four ways of locating water taught in the sub-unit. The teacher will assess students by the methods they used to clean and locate water and the safety of their water once they purify it by testing the bacteria level.

Sub-Unit: Plants and Berries to avoid
Students will play a “What am I” game where the teacher puts a picture of a harmful plant or berry on their forehead and they must go around to their classmates and ask questions to figure out what their picture is of. The teacher will assess student’s learning by making sure they guessed their picture correctly and then have students, in their science journal, sketch their plant or berry and give some characteristics of it. During this sub-unit, the teacher should be informally assessing student progress and have students keep track of the poisonous berries and plants by drawing pictures and writing descriptions in their science journals.

Sub-Unit: Fishing
After the students make their fishing poles as the engagement part of the lesson, the students will discuss what they think the best design and appropriate steps are of creating a successful fishing pole and try it out. They will be given an opportunity to re-model their fishing pole design and their assessment will be how well their revised fishing pole would work. Students will be asked to justify their design and pick appropriate bait they could use to catch the fish. The post assessment will be the final product of their fishing pole and their reflection as to how they think their design would be successful or not successful when catching fish.
We did not do this unit and lessons in a classroom setting, but we did do the activities for students on April 20th, 23rd and 25th during Explore Your World. We did two activities with the students. In one of our activities, we gave the students a piece of string, a rock and a safety pin or cut in half soda pop top. We asked them if they had these three items, how they thought they could make a fishing pole out of them to catch fish for food. The other activity dealt with compasses – we showed them how compasses worked and asked them why and how compasses always point north. After that, we had them make their own compass using a leaf, a magnetized needle and water – in case they were ever lost in the woods without a compass and needed to figure out how to get home. We also had posters behind the activities of poisonous berries and other dangerous plants that we talked to some of the kids that were really interested in our information.
We used a lot of questioning to get the students to think about how they would use the materials we presented to them to make a fishing pole and compass. Some students were very interested and already knew how to make a fishing pole out of string, a safety pin and a rock, and some had no idea and quickly became disinterested. The compass activity was more interesting to most students as it seemed like magic when the needle was pulled toward north and the leaf rotated appropriately. Although some of the other booths attracted more students because of their nature (making slushies, catapulting objects, playing with water, etc.), students say all the materials out on our table and became curious as to what we were doing. That was when we were put to the challenge to engage them and keep them at our booth for longer than thirty seconds.
Although our booth wasn’t as popular as the booths where things exploded or that the students could shoot something or eat something, we still feel like the students learned something from our booth, even if it was simply why a compass points north. A lot of the students didn’t know this, and they were surprised when they figured it out through our questioning them. Future implementation of this unit in a classroom would take some preparation time and deciding where to takes students into the wilderness. Getting students really engaged and interested in learning about wilderness survival is essential, especially for those who are timid around nature and would rather be on a computer than outside exploring the world around them.

Yes, he's a great thinker and good writer. If anyone is interested, he'll be Skyping in to my Freshman seminar class on April 4, at 2:30 pm. You are all welome to come and participate.

Rex's blog by JeffBloomJeffBloom, 19 Feb 2013 03:09

Some pretty nifty things if anyone is interested in reading some smart work beyond what is assigned in class. :) Rex Weyler's Blog

Rex Weyler's Blog by Kyrstyn VenturaKyrstyn Ventura, 19 Feb 2013 03:02
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License