STEM@Home: Making Tracks

File:Tracks in the Snow - Flickr - treegrow (1).jpg
Katja Schulz from Washington, D. C., USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Winter can be a hard season for the animals who make Michigan their home. From chilly temperatures to ice covered rivers and lakes, the landscape looks a little different. But just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean the animals are staying inside! January’s snowy days are the perfect opportunity to find out what the animals in our parks and backyards are up to.

Head over to Tracks in the Snow, a publication from Nature North, and get oriented to the tracks and patterns of winter animals. Start with the basics – rabbits, squirrels, and dogs. You’ve probably spotted those in your back yard during the summer. What are they up to over the winter? Their tracks reveal all their secrets!

Move on to some more unusual sightings. Ever seen a raccoon in your yard, or a fox? Visit a nature center after a fresh snowfall and hunt for signs from those members of the Canidae family. One thing you know about raccoons and foxes – they’re probably up to no good. You might even spot deer tracks while you’re there, looking for some tender plants under the snow.

Animal tracks are like a record of what they’re up to when we’re not around. Study them carefully and you might be surprised! Is the fox chasing a rabbit? Did the rabbit escape in time? How can you tell if the animal is moving quickly or slowly?

Check out Nature North’s guide to rabbit, squirrel, and dog tracks, bear, raccoon and weasel tracks, and skunk, cat, and deer tracks! You’ll be amazed at all the winter activity these animals are up to – and who knows, maybe your human tracks will mystify the creatures after you leave! Share your track photos and animal IDs with the world, and don’t forget to tag ExploreHope on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Love exploring our world, inside and out? Do we have a summer camp for you! Hope Summer Science Camps has over 20 years of experience giving kids the hands-on science explorations of your dreams. Check out the Science Camps page on our website for safety updates, camp schedule, and registration links. We are excited to see you this summer!

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