Proximity & Beyond Enrichment: Scat, Tracks, and Teeth

Chelsea Penney
December 1, 2022

You get up in the morning and go outside to find your trash can knocked over and trash everywhere. You didn’t see it happen, you are just seeing what is left after the culprit finished. How would you use zoology to figure out who/what did it?

During this edition of Proximity & Beyond, virtual certified teacher, Mrs. Harris, discusses the work of a zoologist. She leads virtual students through a “whodunit” activity using animal clues to solve a mystery. Afterward, she closes the after-school enrichment session with book recommendations for future zoologists. 

Experienced virtual teachers bring bonus qualifications

Casey Harris is a zoologist and certified virtual teacher with Proximity Learning. She has spent her career studying animals and teaching about her discoveries. Proximity Learning is thrilled to have such skilled professionals teaching in our virtual schools because they bring unique perspectives to students regardless of where they might be located. 

Proximity Learning teachers are content-certified and often have value-adds in their resumes like Mrs. Harris. This extra experience brings unique opportunities for students to learn about more than just the subject matter taught in their core classes. 

Well-rounded backgrounds give our teachers the tools to give students real-life examples as they follow the curriculum. Proximity Learning teachers do more than teach for the test - they give real-life examples to help students remember the content.

Zoology

Mrs. Harris explains that zoology is the study of the animal kingdom. Zoologists study animals and how they interact with their ecosystems. During her session, she sends a poll to the students, “What kinds of jobs does a zoologist do?” The options she gave included: studying wild animals, studying animals in captivity, writing papers about animals, working in conservation and protecting animals, studying animal poop, or working with zoos and museums. 

Students interacted with the poll and gave their answers. Mrs. Harris revealed they were all right - Zoologists do all of those jobs!

Whodunit: A Zoology Mystery

Mrs. Harris leads the students through an activity to show how they can use zoology to solve a mystery. 

“You get up in the morning and go outside to find your trash can knocked over and trash everywhere. You didn’t see it happen, you are just seeing what is left after the culprit finished. How would you figure out who/what did it?

“Hint: The dog and cat are not suspects. They were inside all night and didn’t even make a sound to let you know something was going on outside.”

Mrs. Harris sends out the next poll to see what the students want to do next. They can look for clues, ask their parents, or check out the security cameras. They decide to look for the clues that were left behind. 

The Clues

Mrs. Harris and the students used observation and data collecting methods like noting the teeth marks on the tomato and flowers, investigating the two different kinds of scat, and studying the two sets of tracks to solve the mystery. The students immediately had ideas, so they communicated with Mrs. Harris through the chat. 

Mrs. Harris showed pictures and went in-depth, talking about the anatomy and lifestyles of animals. Using these zoological tools, the group reached a conclusion together. They ultimately discovered that two animals were involved - an opossum raided the trash can, and a moose ate the flowers!

Virtual learning with expert teachers

Proximity & Beyond is an exclusive after-school enrichment program for our virtual school clients. Our next Proximity & Beyond session features Proximity Learning teacher and college admissions expert Ms. Reynolds, who will share tips and tricks for writing a stellar personal statement essay. To participate, click here to learn more about Proximity Learning virtual schools.

Chelsea Penney earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing from University of Colorado Denver and her Masters of Science in Marketing from Texas A&M University Commerce. She loves living in Austin, TX and working on the frontline as Content Marketing Manager for Proximity Learning.

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