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Take the Prairie Dog STEM Challenge!
Prairie Dog Pup

All you have to do to take the Prairie Dog STEM Challenge is to make your hypothesis — or an educated guess – about how many prairie dog pups will come above ground this year. Don’t worry! You get some help!

There are no WRONG educated guesses… they’re all guesses! That’s because NO ONE KNOWS how many prairie dog babies have been born. Not even the Prairie Dog Experts!

Here’s how YOU can make an educated guess:

Use what we know:

  • There are 12 prairie dog litters.
  • There can be between 1 and 8 pups in each litter, but the average number of pups in a litter is 5.
  • 75% of prairie dog pups born actually come out of the burrow.

This means:

  • The largest number of prairie dog pups would be 12 x 8 = 96.
  • The smallest number of prairie dog pups would be 12 x 1 = 12.
  • The most likely number would be 12 x 5 x .75 = 45.

Now you can make what scientists call an educated guess. An educated guess is really just a guess. But it’s not a random guess. It’s a guess that’s based on some good thinking and good data. That’s why it’s called an educated guess. And now you’re ready to make yours. Any guess between 12 and 96 is a good guess. We will all have to wait until all the prairie dog pups come above ground to know the correct answer.

The Prairie Dog Experts think the prairie dog pups will start coming above ground in late May. iTwixie will keep you posted!

Get guessing and enter your educated guess in the comments section below! The girl closest to the actual number of pups this year will get a SURPRISE!

You go, girls!

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iTwixie Studies Prairie Dogs: Week Seventeen and Final Week

 

The prairie dog expert team uses stuffed badgers in a life-like pose, like the one below, to find out how prairie dogs react to badgers.

smiling_stuffed_badger_on_sled to show tweens study prop.
Photo Credit: Kathleen Eddy

 

Prairie dogs react the same way to both live and stuffed badgers! So this week the researchers will be conducting more experiments with this stuffed badger.

What do you want to know about badgers and prairie dogs?

If you have missed any of the prairie dog study, you may wish to go to Week 1 and work up or start at Week 16 and work back. Jot your questions down right now and we’ll answer them next week — it’ll be our last week of our study!

Researcher Notes:

  • Female prairie dogs with babies are most likely to give an alarm call when they see a badger. But many males also call. Least likely to call are females who did not have any babies.
  • As baby prairie dogs get bigger, they sometimes call as well.
  • We spotted a ring-billed gull this week.

Thanks, Dr. Hoogland, and your prairie dog expert team for sharing their pictures and videos with us!

Next week we’ll wrap up our study and give you some cool info on the prairie dog expert team and the professor who leads this study.

Read More

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