Trip to Bruneau Sand Dunes
Field Tripsuggested grade levels: 9-12
view Idaho achievement standards for this lesson

Although this activity is planned for a trip to the Sand Dunes, the Digital Atlas could be used for almost any type of field trip. Before going on the field trip, expose students to the Digital Atlas so they are familiar and comfortable with using it. Having a laptop would be very convenient because the Digital Atlas could be accessed at anytime during the field trip. If laptops are not available for the field trip, use the Digital Atlas to obtain as much information as possible about the site before visiting. Have students refer back to the Digital Atlas after the field trip as well.

1. Be able to explain how the dunes were formed.
2. Be able to explain how the water at the dunes came to be.
3. Be able to identify wildlife using the Digital Atlas.
4. Be able to identify the major habitats at the dunes.
5. Be able to create a map using the spatial data that is available to them.
6. Be able to use the Digital Atlas of Idaho as an educational tool.

Inform students to bring water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, jacket, rain-jacket, camera, and any special medication.

1. Brief introduction at the dunes by administrator.

2. Have the students break into groups as needed (allow each group to explore different areas of the park and rotate the groups, that way there will not be too many people at a place at the same time).

3. Using laptops and Digital Atlas, explore the geology and climate of the area. To get there: Click on Atlas Home, then on Climatology or Geology. The links from there will be very useful for obtaining the needed information.

4. Using Digital Atlas, find out if there is any information on the historical geography of the area. To get there: Click on Atlas Home, then on Historical Geography.

5. Use Digital Atlas to identify species of wildlife observed. (Use keys in biology section) To get there: Click on Atlas Home, then on Biology. Click on the type of animal you are trying find and click on Identification Pages. When using a key, compare your species with the ones given. Select the group that matches your species. If you do this carefully at each division, it should lead you to a page on your species.

6. Regroup at the end of the day to compare notes. Have discussion on the different information obtained during the day.

7. Encourage students to look at the Bruneau Sand Dune page located in the Digital Atlas. To get there: Click on Atlas Home, Geology, Parks and Monuments, then on Bruneau Sand Dunes.

These questions can be used to stimulate class discussion.
   1. How were the dunes formed?
   2. What is the height of the highest dune?
   3. What species of wildlife were observed?
   4. Why are there ponds in the dunes?
   5. What types of habitat were observed?
   6. What is the climate in the area?
   7. Was the Digital Atlas of Idaho helpful?

Handouts/Activity links:
These are links to access the handouts and printable materials.
Index | Bruneau Sand Dunes

Related Lesson Topics:
Geology: Geology Topics

Lesson Plan by Dean Williams, 2001
Idaho Achievement Standards (as of 7/2001) met by completing this activity: