Daily Discovery: Storytime in the Home – The Prairie That Nature Built Black-Footed Ferret Puppet

Post written by Lea Mikkelsen, Early Childhood Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Storytime in the Home – The Prairie That Nature Built Black-Footed Ferret Puppet

Follow along with FCMoD’s live stream Storytime in the Home: The Prairie That Nature Built. Then work together with an adult to make this Black-Footed Ferret puppet! Black-Footed Ferrets (BFFs) are an endangered species and an important part of the prairie ecosystem. You can learn more about them here!

Supplies:

  • A popsicle stick
  • Black or green beads
  • Glue
  • Craft paper (White, Black, Pink, Green)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors

Instructions:

  1. Place all your supplies on a clear surface with plenty of room to create.
  2. Ask an adult to help you find some pictures of BFFs on the internet for inspiration!
  3. Use a pencil to draw the shape of your BFFs head and ears on the white paper then cut it out. (This one is about 2 ½ inches from ear to ear and 1 ¾ inches from top of ears to chin.)
  4. Cut out a mask (an upside down U shape) and a nose (a rounded triangle shape with the point down) from the black paper and glue them down.
  5. Use the pink paper to cut out ears (half circles) and a small pointy mouth (a very small flat triangle) and glue them down.
  6. Use black or green beads for eyes. A BFF’s eyes appear green at nighttime.
  7. Glue your BFF to the popsicle stick.
  8. Cut out a round burrow for your BFF to live in! Make a small slit in the burrow to let your puppet pop in and out. Decorate your burrow with grass or other prairie features. Have fun!

BONUS: Here are some activities from Dawn Publishing that relate to The Prairie that Nature Built. Here is a coloring page! Build your own bird feeder!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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BFFs: Black-footed Ferrets or Best Friends Forever

Post written by Kim Fraser, Black Footed Ferret Program Coordinator.

BFFs: Black-footed Ferrets or Best Friends Forever

The Black-footed Ferret (BFF) (Mustela nigripes) is the only ferret native to North America and lives on the short grass prairie of the Great Plains. BFFs are members of the Mustelidae family which is often referred to as the weasel family, and includes mink, badger, marten, otter, weasel, fisher, wolverine, and domestic ferret. They are nocturnal, solitary, require large expanses of landscape, and spends their whole life on prairie dog colonies. In the prairie dog burrow systems they seek shelter from predators and weather, eat, sleep, and raise their young. Over 90% of their diet is prairie dog and they eat over 100 per year. BFFs are called fossorial predators, meaning they hunt underground. Their home range is in 12 Western states including Canada and Mexico. Considered one of the most endangered mammals in North America it has been federally protected for over 40 years.  The BFF Recovery Program is one of the most successful recovery programs with over 50 State, Federal, Tribal, NGOs and private landowner partners that all participate in recovery efforts.

Why should we protect black-footed ferrets?

In 1974 when the Endangered Species Act was enacted the Black-footed Ferret was in the top 10 species listed for protection. No one knew then how difficult or easy saving a species from extinction would be. Today, we know recovering an endangered species involves many partners, time, and effort. Since the ESA became law some species have had survival success and some have not. Many people have asked is it worth it?  Is preventing the extinction of an iconic species like the black-footed ferret worth the effort? The answer is yes, it is worth it, and here’s why. The BFF is an important member of the prairie ecosystem and their presence indicates a healthy habitat that supports many other species. Without black-footed ferret conservation efforts, prairie dogs and other associated species such as burrowing owls, swift fox, mountain plovers, ferruginous hawks, prairie rattlesnakes, and many others could easily succumb to current threats. So by conserving black-footed ferrets, we have to conserve prairie dog habitat and that saves an entire ecosystem and its inhabitants that call the short grass prairie home!

  

Why should people care and help save this species from extinction?

Maybe it’s because BFFs capture the imagination that there’s this rarely seen and secretive animal living on the short grass prairie underground. And even though it is one of the most endangered mammals, most Americans will never have the opportunity to see a live BFF.  It’s like a fairytale character of the prairie that represents the wild, and people are passionate about the wild and fascinated about the animals that live there.  When folks learn about BFFs they are amazed that something so cool lives right in their backyard- in America.  We all know about other species that are in trouble across the globe, like elephants, tigers, chimpanzees and rhinos. And it is good to care about what happens to all species on our planet because we are a global living place. Every day we hear about how these other species are doing and how we can help them and that’s important.  But here is an animal that makes its home right here, it belongs to us as Americans as one of our native species. We should care and protect BFFs so they will remain part of the wilds of North America.  One way to help save BFFs is by learning all you can about them.  Because by learning you will come to care about them, and when you care, you will want to help save them. So you see by caring and helping to save them from extinction you are being a BFF or Best Friend Forever not just to black-footed ferrets but to future generations so they too will have BFFs living wild and free on the prairie.

 

The museum is proud to have two black-footed ferrets on-site in partnership with the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. You can see what our BFFs are up to while we’re closed via our Ferret Cam: fcmod.org/ferret-cam!

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Amazing Amphibians

Post written by Willow Sedam, Live Animal Husbandry Team Member.

Amazing Amphibians

Did you know that amphibians were the first animals to live on land? Or that they swallow by blinking and pushing the backs of their eyes into their throat?

Today, we’re looking at the amazing world of amphibians!

What is an amphibian?

Toads, frogs, and salamanders are all amphibians. While amphibians are a wide and varied class of animals, they all have a few things in common.

Amphibians have slimy skin which they can breathe and drink through and has to be kept damp at all times. Amphibians lay squishy, shell-less eggs in water. And they all start out life as aquatic larvae, later metamorphosing (like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly) into their adult form, growing legs and shedding their tails!

Because water is so important to amphibians, they are often found around ponds, streams and marshes. But spending so much time in water means they can often be the first animals affected by a change in water quality. Amphibians can be the first warning that something is wrong with an environment, as they are very sensitive to pollutants, and a decline in amphibian populations can be a clue to scientists that something is wrong. But when amphibians are doing well, that means the environment around them is, too – which is why they are such important animals to learn about and protect!

At the museum, we have four species of amphibians on display, two of which are native to the US, and one that can be found right here in Colorado!

Fire-bellied toad

Despite being called toads, these Eurasian amphibians are technically frogs – you can tell by their long legs and preference for swimming.

These amphibians display two interesting types of coloration at once: camouflage, which blends them into their environment, and aposematism, which warns predators that they might be dangerous. Much like poison dart frogs, fire-bellied toads are brightly colored to warn predators that they are toxic. However, while poison dart frogs are bright all over, fire-bellied toads limit their bright warning coloration to their bellies. When a predator looks down on a frog, it sees only the green and black camouflage on its back, and might not notice it. But if the frog is threatened, it can rear up on its back and show off it’s bright belly that acts just like caution tape and says: stay away from me!

This behavior, called an unken reflex, actually gets its name from fire-bellied toads and the German name for their species, Unke.

Southern toad

Our southern toad is actually more of a southeastern toad, hailing from the warmer and wetter parts of the American east coast, from North Carolina to Mississippi. These amphibians are true toads – warty, with short legs ill-equipped for swimming and jumping but built perfectly to dig. They actually have claw-like spurs on their back legs that help them build burrows to stay safe and moist when the weather gets too hot, too cold, or too dry for them.

Like all amphibians, they lay their eggs in open water – about 3,000 of them per season! After only a couple of days, these eggs hatch into tadpoles, which undergo metamorphosis when they’re barely half an inch long!

Tiger salamander

These salamanders are a Colorado native and can be found in marshes and ponds right here in Fort Collins! But they’re not picky about where they live – they’re actually the most wide-spread salamander species in North America, ranging from Canada all the way to Mexico! Their name comes from the yellow and black splotches on their skin, which look a little bit like tiger stripes. Like tigers, they are also ferocious predators – even if they don’t look like it. When they emerge from their burrows to hunt, they look for anything they can eat – worms, spiders, and beetles, even frogs and smaller salamanders are all fair game!

Our salamanders at the museum get so excited during feeding time, that sometimes they’ll even try and bite their caretaker’s fingers! Unlike frogs, salamanders actually have teeth – lucky for the people feeding them, they aren’t very sharp.

White’s tree frog

These Australian frogs are very popular in the pet trade because of how calm they are around humans – even wild frogs will find their way into people’s sinks, laundry roo

rooms, and bathtubs, no matter if they’re occupied!

Unlike some frogs, White’s tree frogs do not have long sticky tongues that they use to catch prey. Their preferred method of hunting is close-range. Once they’re close enough to a bug or other tasty morsel, they lunge at it with their mouth open wide and scoop it up into their gob with their hands.

These frogs are also very unique for the way they protect their delicate amphibian skin. They secrete a goo from their skin that is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal, allowing them to stay safe and free from disease even when they’re living in places that are mucky and full of germs. The virus-fighting ability they possess is so impressive, it’s even being studied for use in human medicine!

Amphibians are amazing animals, coming in so many different shapes and sizes. From legless, soil-dwelling caecilians to flying tree frogs, they all play an important part in our ecosystem!

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Daily Discovery: Monster Genetics

Post written by Angela Kettle, School Programs Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Monster Genetics

Monsters may be imaginary, but just like all living things, they have genes that determine what they look like and how they behave. Make your very own monster using Mendelian genetics. Will your monster be tall or short? Furry or scaly? Green or blue? Toss a coin to find out!

Supplies:

  • Paper (if you can, print off the last page of the PDF version of this activity)
  • Pencil
  • Crayons, colored pencils, or markers
  • A coin
  • 3D making materials (optional)

Definitions to Know

  • Trait: A characteristic or feature of a living thing… hair color, eye color, and blood type are all examples of traits.
  • Gene: Genes are parts of DNA and carry hereditary  information passed from parents to children.
  • Allele: A version of a gene. Each parent gives its offspring one allele.
  • Genotype: A living thing’s complete genetic information.
  • Phenotype: A living’s things traits.
  • Dominant allele: An allele that is always expressed in the phenotype if present in the genotype.
  • Recessive allele: An allele that is only expressed in the phenotype if the dominant allele is not present.

Don’t understand these definitions yet? No worries! It will all make more sense once you complete the activity.

Instructions:

  1. Just like humans and other animals, FCMoD monsters (which are only imaginary, we promise!) have genes that determine their traits. FCMoD monster babies inherit one allele from each monster parent. The combination of the two alleles decides which traits the baby monster has. In this activity, by flipping a coin, you will determine which alleles your monster inherits from each parent (its genotype). Then, using the rules of dominant versus recessive alleles, you will figure out your monster’s traits (its phenotype).
  2. Print off the last page of the PDF version of this activity entitled “Determining Your Monster’s Genetics.” No printer? No problem! You can make a copy of this page using pencil and paper.
  3. On the “Determining Your Monster’s Genetics” page, you should a table with lots of different monster traits, from height to teeth shape. Each row lists the allele that is dominant and the allele that is recessive.
  4. Flip a coin twice for each trait. If you flip heads on your first flip, write down the dominant allele in the Coin Toss #1 column. If you flip tails on your first flip, write down the recessive allele in the Coin Toss #1 column. Repeat in the Coin Toss #2 column. Leave the Phenotype column blank for now.
  5. Once you have completed two coin tosses for every trait, it’s time to figure out your monster’s phenotype! If a trait is recessive, it is only expressed if it has another recessive allele as its buddy. Find any traits where you wrote down the recessive allele in both the Coin Toss #1 AND Coin Toss #2 columns. (In other words, you got tails twice in a row when you did your coin toss.) Write down the recessive allele in the Phenotype column. Write down the dominant allele in the Phenotype category for all other cases.
  6. Time to make your monster! Draw your monster using the traits listed in your Phenotype column. Bonus points: once you are done drawing your monster, make it in 3D using whatever you have at home!

Questions to Ponder
• Did you flip more heads than tails, more tails than heads, or did you flip about an even amount of heads and tails?
• How much of your monster’s phenotype is made up of recessive alleles versus dominant alleles? Is it the same or different than the number of heads vs. tails in your coin toss? Why do you think that is?
• How do you think your monster’s form affects its function? For example, would a monster with long legs move differently than a monster with short legs? Would a monster with sharp teeth eat different things than a monster with blunt teeth?
• Are genes the only thing that determines what an individual is like? Can you think of any times when the environment could affect an individual’s traits?

Monsters and Us

What do humans, animals, plants, and monsters all have in common? Genetics! While you completed this activity using a monster as an example, you could have also done it for a cow, a cat, a snake, a tree, or even yourself!

In other living things besides FCMoD monsters, though, genetics can get pretty complicated. Sometimes a gene has more than two alleles. (For example, there is a gene in domesticated cats that determines if the cat is black, brown, or cinnamon. Black is the dominant allele, while brown is recessive to black, and cinnamon is recessive to brown.) Sometimes, neither allele is completely dominant, and the allele expressed in the phenotype is a blend or a combination of the two alleles — scientists call this “incomplete dominance” and “codominance,” respectively. (For example, human blood types are classified as A, B, and O, depending on the protein types found in the blood. But, if a human inherits one A-type allele from one parent and one B-type allele from the other parent, her blood type will be AB, a combination of the proteins.)

Scientists have been working hard for many years to map out the genetics that make up all kinds of different organisms. But why does it matter? Understanding genetics can make us better stewards of our planet. See below for some real-life examples!

Real-Life Genetics: Saving the Black-footed Ferret

On September 26th, 1981 the black-footed ferret was rediscovered near Meeteetse, Wyoming. Before that, Black-footed ferrets were thought to be extinct! Since that fateful day of rediscovery, biologists and conservationists have been working hard to recover this endangered species.

Because no new populations of wild BFFs have been found since 1987, the BFF breeding season ( March-July) at BFF managed care facilities follow protocols for specific pairings of individuals to minimize the loss of genetic diversity. In other words, the biologists responsible for breeding Black-footed Ferrets use what they know about genetics to make sure that future BFF generations are
born genetically healthy.

Did you know that FCMoD has two live Black-footed Ferrets on site, in partnership with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service? Make sure to visit the BFFs when the museum is open… and you can watch them 24/7 from anywhere in the world on the Black-footed Ferret cam.

Real-Life Profile: Mary F. Lyon

Mary F. Lyon (1925-2014) was a British geneticist who is credited as having discovered Xchromosome inactivation, often termed Lyonization in her honor. Lyonization is a process that occurs in female mammals (including female humans!), where one copy of the X-chromosome is inactivated in each cell. (Females inherit two X chromosomes, while males inherit an X and a Y chromosome.)

Mary Lyon’s discovery has helped geneticists understand a range of genetic anomalies. For example, tortoiseshell cats are a great example of Lyonization. Orange coloration is carried on the Xchromosome in cats. Let’s say a cat inherits one “orange” X-chromosome and one “non-orange” Xchromosome from its parents. Due to Lyonization, one of those X-chromosomes will be inactivated in each cell. However, which X-chromosome is inactivated varies from cell to cell, resulting in some cells expressing orange coloration while others do not. This creates the random mosaic pattern on tortoiseshell cats.

Lyonization is also the reason that male tortoiseshell cats are so rare. In order for Lyonization to occur, a cat must have two X-chromosomes. A genetic mutation must occur for a male cat to have two X-chromosomes, though it does happen on occasion!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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Daily Discovery: Annie The Railroad Dog

Post written by Heidi Fuhrman, Discovery Camp Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Annie The Railroad Dog

Here at FCMoD we love Annie the Railroad Dog! Learn more about who Annie was and complete a fun activity to celebrate the special animals in your life!

Supplies:

  • Assorted craft materials/recyclables
  • Crayons, colored pencils, or markers
  • Imagination!

Who was Annie?

Annie the Railroad Dog was a very special animal who lived in Fort Collins a long, long time ago! She has a very special story—check it
out through our video on Annie The Railroad Dog or explore the story through our online Archive collection.

After learning more about Annie’s story do the activity below to celebrate her or some other special animal friends in your own life!

Celebrating Our Special Animals

Annie was one special dog and we celebrate her friendliness with a statue of her that sits right outside of the Old Town Library! Maybe you’ve seen her there or given her paw a little shake (I have!). What special animals do you have in your life? Maybe you have your own dog, cat, fish, or other pet! Maybe you have a type of animal that you really love! Today we’re going to create some of our own statues or drawings of our favorite animals!

Instructions:

  1. Gather up all your materials! You can use craft supplies like construction paper, string, fabric, paint, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, etc… or you can use recyclables! Maybe an old cereal box can be the body and a paper towel tube could be a tail… use your imagination!
  2. Create! Use your supplies to make a statue of the special animal you’re thinking of! Will it look the same or a little wonky? If you don’t want to make a statue you can draw a picture of the animal instead!
  3. Share! Show someone in your house or a friend or family member (maybe over video chat) your creation. Explain why that animal is special to you and maybe tell them the story of Annie! You can also share your creations with us @focomod!

Level Up:

Annie lived here at the C&S Railroad Passenger Depot! Where does your special animal live? When you’re done creating your animal can you create a home for them to live in? You could use recyclables, add
it to your drawing, or construct it out of legos or blocks!

Discover More:

Annie isn’t the only special Fort Collins Animal! At the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery we take care of a bunch of animals—such as the very special Black Footed Ferrets or our Fancy Rats! Learn more about our animals through some of our Discovery At Home Activities and Videos (find them on our website at fcmod.org/blog) or by visiting us someday at the museum!

The museum isn’t the only place to see and learn about animals, there are animals all across Fort Collins! Keep your eye out next time you’re hiking, at a park, or playing in your backyard. . .you never know what creature!

If you liked our story of Annie The Railroad Dog, you might also like the book A Lucky Dog: Owney, U.S. Rail Mail Mascot by Dirk Wales or Owney, The Mail-Pouch Pooch by Mona Kerby, they both tell the story of another railroad dog, Owney, who had another very important job!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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Daily Discovery: Imagining Life

Post written by Sierra Tamkun, Learning Experiences Manager. Adapted from the National Informal STEM Educator’s Network (NISE Net).

Daily Discovery: Imagining Life

Have you ever looked up at the night sky and wondered what other life might be out there, circling other stars? If so, you’re thinking like an astrobiologist!

Astrobiologists study how life began and evolved on Earth, and what conditions are needed to make other worlds habitable. Part of their research includes the study of extreme Earth environments where life exists, and they use this information to make predictions about where in the universe we might find other life, and what those life forms might be like!

Explore some different extremophiles (living creatures whose habitats are too extreme for us!) and make your own predictions about what life might exist on another planet!

Supplies:

  • Drawing sheet (linked in PDF below) or blank piece of paper
  • Markers or colored pencils
  • Extremophiles Cards (linked in PDF below)

Instructions:

  1. Take a look at the different extremophiles cards and learn about organisms that thrive in places too extreme for humans.
  2. Imagine a planet or moon in the universe where the  environment is too harsh for people. Is it very hot? Very cold? Is the air too thick, or very thin? Is it too acidic? Use the provided drawing sheet or your own piece of paper to draw the landscape of your imagined world!
  3. Think like an astrobiologist! What sort of organism would  survive on your planet or moon? What adaptations would it need to live there? Would it look like an extremophile of Earth, or something completely different? Draw your life form in its extraterrestrial habitat!

Are we alone in the universe?

We don’t yet have scientific evidence for life in other parts of the universe, but there are some exciting possibilities in the Milky Way galaxy— and even our own solar system! Astronomers have found many potentially habitable planets in the Milky Way using NASA’s Kepler telescope. These “Goldilocks” planets are just the right distance from the stars they orbit—not too close and not too far—to allow liquid water to exist on their surfaces, a critical ingredient for life as we know it. Citizen scientists also participate in Kepler’s
research through the Planet Hunters project!

Astrobiologists expect that alien life forms—if they’re out there—will be specially adapted to their environment. Most of the alien worlds we’ve explored so far are very different from Earth, so any living things we find beyond Earth will probably be very different, too.

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

Image credit: earthsky.org

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Daily Discovery: The Road to Recovery – The Black-Footed Ferret

Post written by written by Charlotte Conway, Public Programs Coordinator. Adapted from WILD about Black-footed Ferrets (US Fish and Wildlife Service).

Daily Discovery: The Road to Recovery – The Black-Footed Ferret

Did you know one of the most endangered mammals in North America lives right here in your backyard? Celebrate Endangered Species Day this year by learning about this amazing animal! Black-footed ferrets, or as we like to call them, BFFs, were thought to be extinct twice! BFFs have recovered from a population of only 18 individuals found in 1981 to several hundred today.

Learn about the rediscovery of the animal thought to be extinct, discover how important it is to protect the habitats of endangered species, and become a wild life conservationist yourself with these BFF activities!

Rediscovery of the BFFs: A Quick History

Black-footed ferrets are considered one of the most endangered animals in North America. Twice, scientists believed they were extinct. In 1964, as the U.S. government was about to declare the black-footed ferret extinct, a small population was located in Mellette County, South Dakota. That population continued to decline and nine ferrets were taken out of the wild to begin a captive breeding program. The captive breeding attempt failed. By 1974, there were no more wild ferrets in Mellette County. When the last captive animal died at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland in 1979, the ferret was again presumed extinct.

Most scientists gave up hope of ever finding another black-footed ferret. While many had searched far and wide, they did not find any more in the wild. A lucky incident changed all that. At about 3 a.m. on September 26, 1981, cattle rancher John Hogg and his wife, Lucille, were awakened by their dog’s furious barking just outside the bedroom window. They figured that Shep had gotten tangled up with a porcupine and they went back to sleep.

When John Hogg looked around the next day, he found the carcass of a strange little animal. He had never seen one like it before. It had a black mask, black feet, and a black-tipped tail. It also had a broken back. Lucille suggested they make a mount of it. They took it to a Meeteetse taxidermist. The taxidermist realized that it was a black-footed ferret.

Amazingly, another black-footed ferret population was soon discovered near Meeteetse, Wyoming. Then, canine distemper struck the population. In 1986, shortly before distemper wiped out all the remaining wild ferrets in Wyoming, the last 18 animals were captured for captive breeding. Unlike the efforts in the 1970’s, scientists were very successful breeding the animals in the 1980’s. By the fall of 1991, the captive-breeding population had grown to a large enough size to permit the first experimental reintroduction site.

The story of what has happened in the 30 plus years since a black-footed was discovered in Meeteetse is nothing less than extraordinary. While it is a story that it still being written, the possibility of a full recover of this species is within reach thanks to efforts lead by US Fish and Wildlife Service and numerous partners.

It is even possible that you could play a role in this amazing recovery effort!

Activity: The Prairie Web of Life

One of the main reasons BFFs became and remain endangered is loss of habitat, and the related decline of their prey, prairie dogs. Make your own prairie web of life to discover the rich diversity of life on the endangered Short-grass Prairie habitat, and then consider what makes a keystone species important to an ecosystem.

Supplies:

  • Pencil or pen
  • Paper
  • Short-grass Prairie Species Cards (included in separate document)
  • Short-grass Prairie Species Chart (printed or you can draw it on your own paper)

Instructions:

  1. Look through the Short-grass Prairie Species Cards. Select a few of your favorite species and write down which species you are most interested in.
  2. Next, fill out the Short-grass Prairie Species Chart (included below) using the Short-grass Prairie Species Card you chose. Fill out a new chart for each species. Fill out a chart for the Black-tailed Prairie Dog and the Black-Footed Ferret as well. You will need to know some vocabulary to help you fill out the chart!
    Producer – organisms like plants that can make their own food from the sun’s energy.
    Consumer – animals that must get their energy from eating plants or other animals.
    Herbivore – an animal that eats only plants.
    Omnivore – an animal that eats both plants and animals.
    Carnivore – an animal that eats only animals, a meat-eater.
    Scavenger:
    Decomposer – organisms such as bacteria and fungi that break down plant and animals.
  3. Now, you are going to make your own Short-grass Prairie food web using the Short-grass Species Charts you filled out. Food webs are like food chains, but they are more complex and help us understand how each species in an ecosystem has a role to play. Every species needs to get energy and nutrients from somewhere, and they often depend on other species to survive.
  4. To begin your food web, use a piece of paper and draw a horizontal line near the bottom. This represents the ground level of the prairie.
  5. Next, think about where energy for the food web comes from. Where do the producers get their energy? The sun! Draw the sun at the top of your page.
  6. Now, you will draw the first level of the food web, near the ground level of the prairie. What species begins every food chain or web? Producers, or plants! Draw clumps of grass to represent your grass, because grasses are the most abundant plant on the Short-grass Prairie. If you chose a Species Card that is a producer, draw it on your food chain here and label it!
  7. Your time to draw the next level of your food chain. What comes next? Herbivores! Draw and label your herbivores above the producers you drew. Be sure to include the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog! Draw an arrow that points from the grass up towards the animals. That arrow shows the direction that energy is flowing through the ecosystem! If you have an herbivore that only eats one species of plant (for example, the monarch butterfly only feeds on milkweed!) then the arrow should point from that plant to that animal.
  8. Next, add omnivore species to your food web. Remember, these animals eat plants, but they also eat other animals! Draw arrows from the plants and animal that these species eats towards the species. Repeat this process for any carnivores you have selected. Add the Black-footed Ferret to your chart at this point!
  9. Repeat this process for scavengers. Finally, repeat this process for any decomposers. Every species you filled out a chart for should now be on your food web!
  10. At this point, you may wish to add more species to your food web. If you include more species into your food web, make sure you draw arrows to connect your species to one anther and show the flow of energy!
  11. Now, consider what happens if a plant or animal is removed from the food web. Does it matter where in the food web a species is removed? Which species in the food web are most important to the Black-footed Ferret?
  12. At least 90% of the black-footed ferret’s diet consists of prairie dogs. Consider what would happen if the prairie dog were removed from the food web. How would black-footed ferrets be impacted? What other species would be impacted by the loss?

Become BFFs with the BFFs

If you care about saving the BFFs as much as we do, here are some ways you can continue learning and help conserve this species!

  • Visit the BFFs that live at FCMoD! Usually, you can visit the two US Fish and Wildlife Service ferrets that live at FCMoD. Lucky for us, you can still visit them virtually with our ferret cam! This ferret camera is always live, so you can see what our BFFs are up to any time of the day!
  • Tip! BFFs are nocturnal, so check out the ferret cam in the evenings for the most action.
  • Research websites to learn more about black-footed ferrets, their history, and the prairie ecosystems they need to survive. We recommend you start here and the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Face Book page.
  • Reach out and share what you’ve learned about black-footed ferrets with your parents, children, friends, teachers, and people you trust in your local community.
  •  Travel to a wildlife refuge, national grassland or park, state, or city natural areas or other prairie habitat. Check out the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area to see a BFF reintroduction site, where BFFs live out in the wild, right here in Northern Colorado!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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Daily Discovery: Storytime in the Home – Baby on Board Sloth Craft

Post written by Harlie Jo Rachel, Education Intern.

Daily Discovery: Storytime in the Home – Baby on Board Sloth Craft

Follow along with FCMoD’s live stream Storytime in the Home: Baby on Board. Then sit down with your family and make a sweet Mother’s Day gift, or just a great card to give to someone very special.

Supplies:

  • Brown and Green Construction Paper or any white paper
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Crayons
  • Optional: Printer to print the sloth face coloring sheet

Instructions:

  1. Place all your supplies on a clear surface with plenty of room to create.
  2. Fold a piece of brown construction paper in half hamburger style. Tip: use any paper you have and color it!
  3. Put your hand with your palm on the creased side of the paper and trace it with a pencil.
  4. Using the scissors, cut out the handprint. You should have two hands joining at the crease!
  5. Color the handprint to look like a sloth.
  6. Print, color and cut out the sloth face! (Or you can draw your own sloth face)
  7. Glue the sloth face to the thumb on the front of your folded handprint card.
  8. Cut out a branch and leaves from the paper. Glue the leaves onto the branch.
  9. Glue the leafy branch to the sloth’s arms so it has a tree to hang from. Be sure you only glue it to one side your handprint so the card can open!
  10. Write a message on the inside of the card and give it to someone you love!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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Daily Discovery: Shadows! / Descubrimiento en casa: Sombras y siluetas!

Post written by Hannah Curtis, Education Assistant.

Daily Discovery: Shadows!

The simple relationship between light and dark. Shadows are everywhere, and we all have a shadow, well sometimes! Explore the realms of natural light during the day and artificial light at night and experiment with how shadows change.

Supplies:

  • Sunlight
  • Toys or objects around your house
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Sidewalk space
  • Flashlight
  • Paper
  • Coloring utensils

Instructions:

Natural Light Shadows

  1. During a sunny day, find space on the sidewalk to which you can draw with chalk or use paper and coloring utensils.
  2. Place a household object or a toy on the sidewalk and check out the shadow that is created. Move your object around and observe how the shadow changes.
  3. Find a spot where you will leave your object all day. Draw the shadow the object on your canvas. Check back every 30 minutes or hour to trace the shadow at that time without moving your object.
  4. At the end of the day before the sun goes down, pick up your object and see the different shadows that were created by one object over the course of the day!
  5. You can also experiment with the shadows of nearby trees or even family member.

Artificial Light Shadows

  1. After the sun sets and there is not more sunlight, you can create your own light and shadows using a flashlight or lamp.
  2. Turn off indoor house lights and direct the flashlight onto a bare wall or ceiling.
  3. Using your hands to form different shapes, you can create different shadow images onto the wall. Test out these different hand shapes or create your own shadow puppet shows.
  4. Try taping a piece of paper onto the wall, and draw the silhouette of a family member.
  5. Discover what happens when you bring objects closer to the flashlight, what about further away? How does the shadow change?

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

Image Credit: Rookieparenting.com

 

Traducido por Károl de Rueda y Laura Vilaret-Tuma.

Descubrimiento en casa: Sombras y siluetas!

La relación entre la oscuridad y la luz es muy simple. Las sombras están por todas partes, y algunas veces, ¡hasta nosotros también las proyectamos! Vamos a explorar la luz natural durante el día y la luz artificial por la noche para experimentar cómo se forman las sombras y cómo se cambian las siluetas.

Artículos necesarios:

  • Luz natural
  • Juguetes/objetos que tengas en casa
  • Una acera o banqueta
  • Tiza o gis para la acera y/o utensilios para colorear
  • Una linterna o lámpara eléctrica portable
  • Papel

Instrucciones:

Para formar sombras en la luz natural

  1. Durante un día soleado, busca un sitio en una acera o banqueta donde puedas colorear con tiza o usar papel y utensilios para colorear.
  2. Pon algún objeto o juguete sobre la acera y mira la sombra que forma. Mueve y gira tu objeto para observar cómo esta cambia.
  3. Busca un lugar donde puedas dejar tu objeto todo el día, y colócalo encima de una hoja de papel. Dibuja su silueta sobre este, y regresa cada treinta minutos o cada hora para trazar una nueva silueta en ese tiempo sin mover tu objeto.
  4. Antes del anochecer, recoge tu objeto y observa la evolución de las sombras que dibujaste durante el curso del día.
  5. ¡También puedes experimentar con las siluetas o sombras de los árboles alrededor, o hasta con algún miembro de tu familia!

Para formar siluetas usando luz artificial

  1. Después del ocaso y cuando ya no haya más luz natural, podrás crear tu propia luz artificial usando una lámpara o linterna.
  2. Apaga las luces de un cuarto y enciende la lámpara dirigiéndola hacia una pared o hacia el techo.
  3. Crea diferentes formas con tus manos y colócalas al frente de la lámpara para hacer diferentes imágenes. Más abajo te damos algunas ideas para crear personajes ¡y organizar tu propio espectáculo de sombras!
  4. También podrías pegar un papel blanco sobre la pared y trazar la silueta de un miembro de tu familia.
  5. ¿Qué pasa cuando acercas o alejas tus manos de la fuente de luz? Descubre cómo cambian las sombras y siluetas, mientras te diviertes en familia.

¿Te gustaría descargar esta actividad? Haz clic aquí para obtener un archivo PDF.

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Daily Discovery: Singing Glass / Descubrimiento en casa: Copas musicales

Post written by Eisen Tamkun, Music Programming Lead.

Daily Discovery: Singing Glass

Wine glasses aren’t just for wine. Learn how to make them sing!

Supplies:

  • Wine glasses – the more the better (not all work – experiment to see which work best!)
  • Water
  • Tape
  • Pen

Instructions:

  1. Wash your hands to get any dirt off so they are squeaky clean.
  2. Fill the glass about half way with water.
  3. Take your pointer finger and dip it into the water; then with slight pressure, run your finger in a circular motion along the rim. If it feels too dry, just give you finger another dip!
  4. The key is maintaining the same amount of pressure as you move your finger along the rim. And pretty soon you will have a new musical talent! Just remember the three things needed to make that glass sing: moisture, pressure and glass type.
  5. Now that you have mastered making your glass sing, it’s time to start experimenting! Using the tape, mark where the water level is. Add or take away some water and listen to
    how the sound changes.

Nicely done! You have gained a new musical talent. Practice creating different tones with multiple glasses and water levels, and host a singing glass concert for you family!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

 

Traducido por Károl de Rueda y Laura Vilaret-Tuma.

Descubrimiento en casa: Copas musicales

Las copas de vino no se usan solamente para beber. ¡También pueden hacer música! Aprende cómo hacerlas sonar siguiendo unas instrucciones sencillas.

Artículos necesarios:

  •  Copas de vino vacías, mientras más, mejor. (Hay algunas copas que no suenan, así que primero prueba para ver cuáles sirven mejor para esta actividad)
  • Agua
  • Cinta adhesiva
  • Pluma

Instrucciones:

  1. Lávate las manos hasta que estén super limpias.
  2. Llena una copa con agua hasta la mitad.
  3. Mete la punta de tu dedo índice, sácalo del agua y después, con un poco de presión, mueve el mismo dedo en forma circular sobre el borde de la copa; esta debe emitir un tono musical. Si se siente un poco seco, simplemente moja tu dedo en el agua otra vez.
  4. La clave para mantener este sonido es el aplicar la misma cantidad de presión sobre el borde de la copa. ¡Ya estás adquiriendo una nueva habilidad musical! Solo recuerda los
    tres elementos para hace música con las copas: humedad, presión, y el tipo de copa que usas.
  5. Ahora que ya has hecho música, ¡es hora continuar el experimento! Llena otras copas con diferentes cantidades de agua y usando cinta adhesiva, marca el nivel del agua en cada una. Aplícales presión con tu dedo índice como aprendiste en esta actividad, y ¡observa cómo cambia el tono musical!

¡Bien hecho! Ya has ganado un nuevo talento musical. ¡Organiza un concierto de copas musicales para tu familia!

¿Te gustaría descargar esta actividad? Haz clic aquí para obtener un archivo PDF.

Para encontrar actividades, ideas y mucho más descubrimiento en casa, ¡síguenos!

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