Wildlife Sampling

Judy Young
7th Grade/Math
Kimberly School District

Content Area Objectives Addressed: 
Data collection and organization.
Set up and solve proportions
Develop formulas to compute proportions and percent.
Use of capture-recapture method of estimation.
Use technique which simulates technique used in real world application.

Technology Objectives Addressed
Preparing and using a spreadsheet.
-easy to read and understand
-clear headings
*developing appropriate formulas and using the correct format
*saving files
*sending e-mail with an attachment


Activity Description

What was the process that your students went through to complete this lesson?
I introduced the simulation by reading an article from the newspaper regarding the water issues revolving around the salmon population and use of dams for power production.  We further discussed the issue of water for irrigation and the drought we are presently experiencing since we live in a rural area dependent on river water for irrigation.
I informed the students that we would use the capture/recapture method to estimate the number of salmon in some of the rivers which could be impacted.  Students related stories about  a fish counting set up near Stanley, Idaho, where they had actually seen tagged fish.

Students were placed in groups of three or four.  Each group was given a river (paper bag) full of fish, a fish gatherer (paper cup), and fish sorters (paper clips).  A clean blue piece of butcher paper was placed on each group’s table.

Students were given a sample spreadsheet on which to record data.  I used the Smartboard to project the same spreadsheet and model the procedure and placement of information.

Students were instructed to dip into the bag with the fish gatherer and scoop out a level container full of fish.  These fish were then counted, “tagged”, and the original number captured  recorded.  To “tag” the fish we exchanged pretzel goldfish crackers for the original cheddar goldfish.  The original cheddar were eaten so not to be confused with the fish remaining in the river.

As a large group we all took our first sample.  Students then counted the number recaptured and the number tagged with their fish sorters, and recorded them in the proper place as I modeled one group’s totals on the Smartboard. When they were done they returned all of the fish to the river.  Students then repeated this procedure 9 more times to have a total of 10 entries.

Students were paired with another student from his or her group and assigned a computer.  At this time they set up headings on the computer and a few started to record data.  They saved the spreadsheet and e-mailed it to their partners.

At the beginning of the second day we met first as a group to discuss entries and determine formulas.  The per cent formula was easy for them to determine.  We worked at the formula for proportion by working through a proportion and assigning each part a variable and then coming up with a formula in a format the computer would recognize.  I felt it was important for the students to determine the formula rather than look for a formula within the program.  I had the students write the formula in the exact cell on the template that they would use on the final spreadsheet.  The last formula averaged the estimated populations and was eventually compared to the actual number of fish in the “river”.

Student pairs then went to four different rooms to use computers.  I had to keep moving from room to room to ensure student progress and conduct.  Students printed hard copies of their spreadsheets to submit and e-mailed copies to their partners.   Saving the spreadsheets became a problem when our system did not “like” the Corel 9 version of Quattro Pro and would shut down before students had completed the requirements.  We later found out that saving as version 6 was a safer format.

Finally, we regrouped and discussed the outcomes of our simulation.  Besides evaluating the accuracy of our samples, we discussed how more samples would result in more accurate predictions.

How did you monitor student progress?
Circulating among the student during the simulation was the best way to monitor progress.  I would ask questions about how they could be more efficient counting their recaptured fish.  Sometimes I had groups share their method of counting fish.
Since I had to send the students to 4 different rooms to use computers, I was pretty well on the run the whole time troubleshooting and answering questions.  The teachers were in the rooms, but my students were to wait for me and not bother the home room teacher.

Was there a template or an example that students were expected to follow? 

I prepared a template for the students to record data and formulas.  It was a model of what their final draft should look like and had procedures listed at the bottom.

How much time did you dedicate to this project?

180 minutes       

Daily (approximate)
2 meetings of 90 minutes (block scheduling)

How was the final product presented?

Students ran a hard copy of their spreadsheets and e-mailed me a copy.  As a class we discussed the results of the individual rivers.

Who was the audience for the final product?
  The teacher and the class were the final audiences.


Learning Issues

What prior knowledge was required on the part of the students in order for them to be successful in this project? (include curriculum and technology knowledge)
The students need a background in solving proportions and calculating per cent.
Most of my students had prior knowledge of using a spreadsheet.  Those who had no prior experience were paired with more experienced students.

Resource Management

What was the student to computer ratio?  
2 students per computer

How did you schedule your students' computer time?
We did the computer applications during about 20 minutes at the end of one 90 minute block and about  60 minute or another class block.

What was the location of the computers and other technology equipment used by students?     
I arranged for students to use classrooms of teachers who were on their prep period.  We have a computer lab which is used all day, but each classroom has a bank of five computers available.

How would you suggest beginning teachers obtain computer resources for their students? (Knowing some of your strategies would be valuable for our pre-service teachers.)

Many tech applications are available through on-line lesson plans.  Publishers have a variety of books with applications.

Rate the level of access for students to use computers/other technologies as they needed  -- medium

Rate the level of supervision required for students during the project, specifically for computer and other technology use – 




What hardware was required for your project? Networked computers, printers

What software was required for your project? 
Spreadsheet program–Quattro
Pro is our program

Anything else?  



What kind of assessment did you use for this project? (Include a copy if you can.)
Teacher observation was used during the data collection and recording part of the lesson. Student work was evaluated for accuracy of  information, format, clear headings. 

What categories did you assess? (I.e.:  content, screen design, depth/breadth, etc.)

The emphasis of the assessment was a clear representation of data and use of formulas to make predictions.  Ease of accessing information through clear headings and layout was also evaluated.



How does the product that you submitted compare with other students' products for this same project?

Student work was all about the same because of the use of the template.

What did you like best about this project?

I like the hands on link to the technological application.  Students need real world experiences/simulations to make the math more relevant.

What did the students like best about this project?

They really enjoyed the whole process, but it didn’t hurt to be able to eat the project at the end!

Rank the level of student involvement in this project 


Rank the level of student interest in this project

Would you teach this lesson again?

I would definitely teach this lesson again.  We could use Teddy Grahams as another real world issue to investigate.