|Environmental Education in the Schools (Peace Corps, 1993)|
|Activities, activities and more activities|
Holding a desert research contest is a great way to help your kids learn some fascinating desert facts. To get started, pass out copies of the questions listed on page 337. Then divide the group into five or six teams Tell the kids that they'll have a certain amount of time to answer as many of the questions as they can. For example, the deadline for answering questions might be two weeks from the day the contest begins. To find their answers, the kids will have to do some research and for some questions they may have to "dig" for the information they need. That could mean looking up information not only in encyclopedias but also in other reference books and maybe even periodicals (You can either give the kids some research time every day or so or let them work completely on their own time.)
Each team member can work on all of the questions, or else each person can be responsible for answering only one or two of the questions. (You might want to leave it up to each team to decide how to divide the workload.) Tell the kids that they don't have to find answers to all of the questions. But they won't receive points for unanswered questions or for questions answered incorrectly.
Have the kids write down the sources of their answers. (Even if they think they know an answer without having to look it up, they should try to find a source that backs up the answer.) Explain that, whenever they research something, it's important to keep records of their sources of information. That way they can easily find the information again if they need to refer back to it.
On the day of the deadline, have all of the teams neatly write their answers and reference sources on a piece of paper and hand them in. Then check their answers against the answers we provide. Score a point for each correct answer and 0 points for each unanswered question or wrong answer. (Keep in mind that some of the kids' answers may be a little different from ours for a couple of reasons. First, the kids may have to rely on older sources of information that have become outdated by newer research and findings. Second, some of our answers- especially those Involving numbers-are approximate, since exact answers aren't known and vary slightly from one source to the next. As long as the kids did their research they should probably get credit for an answer, even if it's different from ours.)
When you're finished checking the answers, go through all the questions with the kids. Then reveal the winning team!
1. What makes the skin of some Tuareg nomads turn blue?
2. Name four ways some desert people use camels.
3. What percentage of the earth's surface is desert?
4. What are gibbers and where are they found?
5. What important liquid energy source is found under many desert areas?
6. Many scientists think that certain kinds of desert plants are among the oldest living things in the world. Name one of these plants.
7. About how tall can a saguaro (sah-WAH-ro) cactus get to be?
8. What is a tagilmust?
9. What do Bushmen store in ostrich egg shells?
10. Why is oil sprayed on sand dunes in some deserts?
11. What well-known ancient culture thrived in a huge African oasis?
12. Where does a lot of water that irrigates California's Imperial Valley come from?
13. What continent has the largest desert and what is the desert's name?
14. What is a seif and what does the word seif mean?
15. The fruit of what cactus is a favorite of the Papago Indians?
16. What animal sometimes helps Australian Aborigines when they go hunting?
17. On which continent do scientists think the first camel evolved?
18. What valley represents the world's largest oasis?
19. Which desert-dwelling Native Americans are now known as the "ancient ones"?
20. Which large, stony desert did Genghis Khan and his troops ride through on their way to conquering China?
21. About how much water per person per day should you take with you on a trip into the desert?
22. What does the Mongolian word gobi mean?
23. How did the Joshua tree get its name?
24. What desert insects become very destructive when they gather in groups to swarm?
25. How can the oil of the desert plant called jojoba (ho-HO-ba) benefit the sperm whale?
26. Why do certain beetles in the Namib Desert often stand at the crest of a dune with their abdomens pointing up into the air?
27. What do the desert birds known as sandgrouse have in common with a sponge?
28. What is Pueblo Bonito and where is it located?
29. What substance do camels frequently carry to market in blocks?
30. What's a kuipad?
DESERT QUEST ANSWERS
1. the dye in their clothing
2. Camels can be ridden, they can carry goods to market, they provide meat and milk, their skins can be used to make saddles and shoes, their hair can be woven into cloth, the fat in their humps can be melted down and used as a cooking oil, and their dung can be used as a fuel
3. about 15%
4. Gibbers are red stones that cover parts of some deserts in Australia.
6. bristlecone pine, creosote bush
7. About 50 feet (15 meters) tall. The average saguaro is around 30-40 feet (9-12 meters) tall.
8. the veil that Tuareg men wear
10. Oil stabilized dunes so that vegetation can take root
11. the Egyptians
12. the Colorado River
13. Africa-the Sahara Desert
14. A seif is a type of sand dune named for its razor-thin edge. Seif is the Arab word for sword.
15. the Saguaro
16. the dingo, a type of wild dog
17. North America
18. the Nile Valley
19. the Anasazi
20 the Gobi
21. a gallon (3.81 )
22. pebbly plain
23. Mormon pioneers named this plant after the Biblical leader, Joshua. To them, the plant resembled Joshua pointing the way to the Promised Land.
24. desert locusts
25. Jojoba oil is very similar to sperm whale oil and can be used in place of it as a lubricant.
26. It's their way of getting water: The fog that condenses on their upraised bodies trickles down to their mouths.
27. A male sandgrouse's breast feathers are like a sponge in the sense that they can hold a lot of water. After soaking his breast feathers, a male flies back to his young and lets them drink the water he's brought.
28. It's a pueblo ruin in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
30. the traditional long stick, made of saguaro ribs, that the Papago Indians use for harvesting saguaro fruit