Is it possible that students in 5th grade can save the black-footed ferret (BFF) and reintroduce them back into their natural habitat? Absolutely!
Students in fifth grade have been challenged with a multi-dimensional complex real-world problem regarding the reintroduction of the BFF. Students have formed teams and will work together collaboratively to solve this issue. They have been tasked with creating a model habitat for the ferret using Fort Collins, Colorado, as a test site. As members of the Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Reintroduction Team (BFFRRT), students will need to use primary documents and research solutions to this problem. The teams must research the critical elements necessary for successful reintroduction of the BFF, create a viable model, and give their presentation to members of the Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Reintroduction Team (BFFRRT) Project Oversight Committee. As they work as scientists, they will begin to gain a greater understanding of the genetic fragility of the BFF and the complex ecosystem in which it lives.
Students receive the opening scenario that introduces the problem. A memo arrives from Dr. Mitchell Ladner, the (fictitious) head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In the memo, Dr. Ladner informs the team that public support for the BFF is diminishing, making improved progress imperative. Students are urged to demonstrate the viability of a new reintroduction site for the BFF.
This type of learning is quite different to what students are accustomed to in elementary school. It allows students to research questions they may have and to find answers to group questions.