During the 2015-2016 school year, the 7th grade science class of Northern Michigan Christian School in McBain, Michigan, participated in “A Year in the Life of a Bear,” a program designed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Students used a Michigan map to plot the movements of two bears wearing radio collars and also learned about the bears’ activity through videos and activities. The class also learned how the DNR manages and maintains a healthy black bear population.
The class then used the information they had discovered about bears to create a video that interpreted or told the story of a year in the life of a Michigan black bear, and then submitted it to the DNR as part of a competition. Students were encouraged to be creative, accurate, and original in their presentation. In May, the class’s submitted video won first place in the DNR’s contest and was awarded a $1,000 gift certificate for the purchase of science supplies for the classroom.
This was the first time the school participated in this project. “The contest is judged solely on the video, although we have been spending one to two days per month completing the bear activities that the DNR provided for us,” said teacher Linda DeMott. “We were held accountable for completing each of the lessons and not allowed to enter the contest if we did not complete the entire program.
“The students' favorite part was being able to track the bears’ location each month,” said DeMott. “One of our bears was legally harvested by a licensed hunter during the year, so that created fun discussion about hunting ethics, the importance of managing a population, and having an organized system in place with rules and regulations regarding hunting black bears. We looked at the entire process with a Christian perspective in mind and discussed the importance of stewardship, ecology, and the diverse creation of animals and their role and purpose in our lives.”