Scavenger Hunt – Older Participants (PEEC)

Summary:

Participants learn about elk, other Arkansas wildlife and geological characteristics of the Ozarks with a scavenger hunt. Participants will use the scavenger hunt handout to guide themselves through the exhibits. At each exhibit is a riddle. Participants will solve the riddle and move to the next station. The exhibits are hands-on for participants to feel, see and hear aspects of Arkansas wildlife.

Grade Level:

5 - 8

Recommended Setting:

Indoor: Ponca Elk Education Center

Outdoor Activity:

No

Location:

Ponca Elk Education Center, Ponca, AR

Contact:

Education Program Coordinator, 870-861-2432

Duration:

30 - 45 minutes

Suggested Number of Participants:

Up to 25

Objectives:

  • Learn information about wildlife in Arkansas.
  • Learn information about the geology of the Ozark region.
  • Experience, through touch and sound, some characteristics of Arkansas wildlife, including elk.
  • Experience, through touch and sight, some geological characteristics of the Ozark region.

Key Terms*:

Antler

Bugle

Camouflage

Carnivore

Field guide

Fossil

Guard hairs

Herbivore

Horns

Ivories

*See glossary for definations

Materials:

Scavenger hunt sheet (class set)

Background:

Arkansas elk habitat is filled with many different and interesting kinds of wildlife and geological formations.

Procedure:

  1. Give each participant a scavenger hunt sheet, explaining that while learning some interesting information at the stations, they will also be on a scavenger hunt for information.
  2. Tell them they will be taking a self-guided tour through the exhibits and that some exhibits are numbered. These areas are scavenger hunt stations where they will find information to answer the questions.
  3. Encourage them to touch, look and listen at each exhibit, except for the mounted animals. These animals are fragile and cannot grow the hair that is removed by touch.
  4. The following information and riddle are on the scavenger hunt sheet:
    • Station 1 – cow/calf display
      • Elk calves are born during May and June.
      • Calves are born with spots for camouflage and have very little scent.
      • When they are born, the calves weigh about 35 pounds.
      • The mother is called a cow and can weigh more than 500 pounds, standing 4 1/2 feet at the shoulder.
      • Elk have large ears that rotate to hear noises.
      • The cow knows her calf by its high-pitched squeal.
      • The cow will take a threatening posture and fight with sharp front hooves to defend her calf.
      • Cows and calves do not have antlers.
      • Riddle – “I have these on my back when I’m a baby so I can hide in the grass for safety.” (Answer: calf spots)
    • Station 2 – biofacts displa
      • Elk have “tusks” in the upper jaw. They look like teeth but are actually ivories and are valued for jewelry and decoration.
      • Bulls can weigh more than 700 pounds and stand 5 feet at the shoulder. Their call is a bugle.
      • The hide of an elk has two coats. One is a thin, sleek summer coat and one is a long, thick coat for winter. The long hairs are guard hairs and are hollow to make them warm and waterproof.
      • Elk have antlers made of fast-growing bone that shed every year. Some animals have horns which are hollow, slow growing and permanent, which means they never shed.
      • The skull of the bull elk is larger than a cow’s and has bony bumps where the antlers grow.
      • Riddle – “I’m shiny and white, but not a tooth. I’m found in the mouth and worth lots of loot.” (Answer: ivories)
    • Station 3 – bull display
      • A bull’s antlers display its fitness. They indicate to cows which bulls are healthier and stronger, and to other bulls, they intimidate and establish rank. They are used as weapons for dominance. A full-size rack weighs approximately 40 pounds
      • Elk antlers have a protective covering while growing called velvet. In the fall, the velvet dries up and begins to itch, so the bull rubs his antlers on trees to scratch it off.
      • Elk eat lots of grasses and bushes quickly, then hide and lay down to chew their cud (digest their food).
      • Riddle – “My antlers itch, itch, itch, and no fingers to scratch with! What do I do?” (Answer: rub them on a tree
    • Station 4 – Arkansas black bear display
      • These bears share habitat with elk. They eat acorns, berries, plants, honey, insects and meat.
      • A bear will raid a beehive for honey but will eat the hornets from a hornet’s nest.
      • Bears have long claws for climbing trees and digging for food.
      • They will turn over logs and rocks looking for food.
      • Bears are shy but are dangerous if they feel threatened.
      • It is important never to feed bears.
      • Riddle – “A buzzing home made of paper, admiring from afar would be much safer. To a bear it holds a tasty treat.” (Answer: hornet’s nest)
    • Station 5 – birding area
      • There are more than 380 species of birds in Arkansas.
      • Different birds have different nests. (Show the display with different types of nests.)
      • Birds eat differently. The ground, raised platforms, hanging bird feeders or a tree trunk with suet are good places to feed birds because they will meet the different feeding needs of many different birds.
      • Birds travel for changes in climate and food sources. This is called migration.
      • Field guides are used to identify species of birds and learn about their behavior, habitat and calls.
      • Binoculars are used to observe and to make identification easier.
      • Riddle – “Our numbers are great, for such a small state. How many species of birds are there in Arkansas?” (Answer: more than 380 species)
    • Station 6 – geology display
      • Bluffs are made of limestone.
      • Chert is a rock that was used by Native Americans to make arrowheads and tools.
      • Fossils are very old shells, plants, and animals preserved in rock.
      • Crinoids are fossilized marine animals that looked something like a plant. They are the most common fossils found in the Ozarks.
      • Calamite is a fossilized horsetail, formed when the hollow plant filled with mud.
      • Riddle – “Most often you will see, in a rock a piece of me. I’m a treasure, no, not gold. It’s just that I’m very, very old.” (Answer: crinoids)
    • Station 7 – skins, skulls and tracks display
      • The shape of the teeth depends on what type of animal it is. For example, predators (carnivores) have pointed, sharp canine teeth, while prey (herbivores) have flat, square teeth for eating plants.
      • The position of the eye in the skull depends on what type of animal it is. Predators have eyes in front of their skull to allow for focus, while prey have eyes on the sides for a wider view to detect predators.
      • Camouflage uses color and pattern to blend with surroundings for better hiding, for safety or for the hunt.
      • Animals’ feet have adaptations to help with swimming, running, digging, grasping, etc. For example, a beaver has webbed feet, which allows for better swimming. The claws on a bobcat will retract, allowing for a quiet stalk along the forest floor, allowing it to sneak up on its prey.
      • Riddle – “I have teeth long and sharp for gnawing down trees.  My feet are webbed and my tail flat for swimming with ease.” (Answer: beaver)
  5. Remember, this information is just a little of what each exhibit provides. Encourage the participants to take time exploring each.
  6. There are several other points of interest in the exhibit room. Encourage exploration of each of them. This will give the participants a great deal of information in a fun, interactive way.
  7. After the participants have completed the hunt, bring them back together to go over the correct answers to the riddles.

Review:

  • What information was particularly interesting?
  • Which exhibit was your favorite and why?

Glossary:

Antler – fast-growing bony structure shed each year from the head of an adult male deer or elk, female caribou and other cervid; frequently branched with multiple points

Bugle – scream made by bull elks during the rut (breeding season) to assemble cows or to warn other bulls

Camouflage – colors, tones, patterns, shapes or behavior an organism uses to blend with its surroundings; also concealment that alters or obscures the appearance; also protective coloration, a common animal defense

Carnivore – any animal that consumes other animals that are living (predation) or dead (scavenging)

Field guide – an illustrated manual sized for carrying which identifies natural objects, flora and fauna

Fossil – a trace, impression or the remains of a plant or animal of a past geologic age preserved in the earth’s crust

Guard hairs – long coarse hairs that protect the undercoat

Herbivore – a plant eating animal

Horn – permanent, unbranched bony core covered by a thin layer of keratin atop the head of several mammals; usually grown by both sexes and usually has a yearly “ring” that marks the animal’s age

Ivories – remnants of tusks in the front of the elk’s upper jaw; also called buglers, canines or whistlers