Scavenger Hunt Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan 2

Exploring the Prairie

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Students will conduct online research to answer important questions related to prairie conservation, prairie plants and animals, and the ecological system of the prairie.

Activity Summary

Students apply for a summer job as student assistant at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. Staff members at the preserve are trying to recreate the prairie as it would have looked in the 1830s before farms and cities were established. Students will work with a partner to find answers to 8 important questions focusing on prairie ecological systems and conservation efforts.


  1. Why is plant diversity important to the ecosystem of a tallgrass prairie?
  2. How does plant dominance affect the tallgrass prairie?
  3. Why are bison significant in the history of tall grass prairies?
  4. Why have the number of prairie dogs and bison diminished over the years and how has this affected other wildlife?
  5. How did fires renew the tallgrass prairie?
  6. What's the importance of the enormous root system of some prairie plants?
  7. Why are controlled burns an important part of prairie conservation efforts today?
  8. How can you make a difference with prairie conservation efforts?

Tips For Teachers

  • Help students to select Websites from the Webliography as well as those identified for this learning activity.
  • For some students, 8 questions may be too challenging. You might consider asking some students to answer the even numbered questions and others the odd numbered ones.
  • Many students will find this activity very motivating. To answer additional questions, encourage students to contact a prairie expert about additional questions related to the prairie.
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