"I'm Thirsty!"

4th Grade Math Activity – Teacher Directions

Summary

Students calculate water needs of Big Horn Sheep

Background:

The desert bighorn sheep is another inhabitant of the Big Bend or Trans-Pecos region. This dry, sparsely vegetated area has temperatures in the summer that soar above 100 degrees F. The bighorn sheep have made incredible adaptations to this environment! During the hottest summer months ewes (females) and lambs go to waterholes almost daily. Rams (males) sometimes do not go to watering holes for nearly a week at a time. These rams may range 20 miles away from the waterhole, and then travel the 20 miles back again for another drink. Adding approximately 5 miles traveled per day during the week and you have almost 65 miles between drinks! It is believed that the rams drink four gallons of water at a time, while ewes drink about one gallon and a lamb drinks two pints.

Skills:

Mathematics: Problem Solving, Calculation
Science: Adaptation of animals to habitat

Materials:

• Paper
• Pencils

Procedure:

  1. Share the background information about big horn sheep with students.
  2. Ask students to engage in problem solving to answer the following questions about bighorn sheep. Grouping students and having each group answer a different question is an alternative strategy for the class. Have students share solutions with the entire class.
    1. How many miles to the gallon does a ram get? (16.25 miles per gallon)
    2. How much water would a ram need for a month? (4 gallons x 4 weeks per month = 16 gallons)
    3. How much would one ewe drink in a week? (7 gallons per week)
    4. How much water would a lamb drink in a week? (14 pints – divided by 8 pints = 1.75 gallons per week)

Additional Activities:

Have students discuss possible reasons for different water needs among rams, ewes, and lambs. Also discuss the importance of water conservation for wildlife as well as humans.


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