How Can We Measure Elephant Populations?
In this activity, students use an interactive tool to simulate how scientists collected and used sample data to estimate elephant population sizes.
The tool simulates methods shown in the Scientists at Work video The Great Elephant Census. It automatically records data as students measure habitat areas and count elephants. Students then make sense of the data and use it to help explain why these methods are important. A major goal of this activity is for students to use computational thinking to make sense of the numbers that are calculated by the tool. The questions provided in the “Student Handout” reflect student sensemaking, particularly around number sense.
Student Learning Targets
- Use a model to simulate methods for measuring habitat areas and determining population densities.
- Analyze and interpret data to compare sample and total counts.
- Construct an explanation that provides reasoning for why sampling methods are used.
aerial survey, census data, population density, sample count, survey method, total count, transect, tusklessness
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS3-3, HS-LS4-3; SEP2, SEP3, SEP4, SEP5, SEP6
AP Biology 2019
EVO-1.F, EVO-1.G; SP1, SP2, SP3, SP4, SP5
IB Biology 2016
AP Environmental Science 2020
SP2, SP5, SP6
IB Environmental Systems and Societies 2017
Common Core 2010
MP1, MP2, MP4
Vision and Change 2009
CC1, CC5; DP2, DP3, DP6