Texas Panhandle

Bison Calculations
4th Grade Activity - Teacher Directions

Background:

The Texas State Bison Herd is contained in a 330-acre pen in Caprock Canyons State Park. Currently there are only 33 animals. It is the responsibility of the park to make sure these animals are properly cared for and have the necessities to survive. The animals must be fed and water must be provided. In addition to grazing, the bison are fed nutritious cubes and hay to supplement their diet. Each bison eats 1.6% of their total body mass and drinks 5 gallons of water each day!

Skills:

Mathematics: Calculation, Estimation, Measurement

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Ask students to mentally calculate an estimate for how many pounds of food all 33 bison in the state herd eat in one day. Round off numbers to the nearest ten (30 X 30 = 900 lbs. a day.) Some students may need to use paper and pencil to calculate.
  2. Have students compare answers when completed.
  3. Ask students to mentally calculate an estimate for how many gallons of water all 33 bison drink in one day. Round off numbers (6 X 30 = 180 gallons a day.) Some students may need to use paper and pencil to calculate.
  4. Ask half of the class to calculate exactly how many pounds of food the 33 bison eat each day and the other half of the class to calculate exactly how many gallons of water the 33 bison drink in one day. What is the difference between the estimation and the exact calculations?
    Answers: Food 33 X 25 = 825 pounds, Difference - 75 pounds
    Water - 33 X 5 = 165 gallons, Difference - 15 gallons

Extension Activities:

Ask students to visually estimate how many 8-ounce cups of water it will take to fill a 5-gallon bucket. Have each student write an estimate on a slip of paper and put into a box or basket, before students actually take turns filling the bucket with cups of water. Have class count each cup of water as it goes in. Reward the winning estimate!


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