First graders learned all about the groundhog and its habitat, hibernation, chambers of a burrow, and budgeting with our Groundhog’s Day STEM challenge. We even learned that groundhog hibernation habits are the focus of several types of studies that are trying to find ways of improving people’s health. We discovered that the groundhog’s brain doesn’t need as much oxygen when it is hibernating and therefore, only breathes about once every 4 minutes. Scientists are using this information to try to apply a “hibernation” principal to the human brain to help alleviate stroke damage. They are also studying the hormone that helps the animal to deeply relax for hibernation to help transplant and heart attack patients.
Students began with the problem: Construction workers accidentally destroyed the groundhog’s burrow and with winter just around the corner, he needs a new place to hibernate. They then took on the challenge: Build a new burrow for the groundhog that has a sleeping chamber, a main entrance, and a secret escape route. You only have $20.00 to spend on supplies so plan wisely and stick to your budget. It was amazing to see all of the different ideas that the students came up with but then had to revamp to fit there budget. Then once the students had a successful structure they were challenged to go back and improve it with their leftover budget. Some added extra chambers or a false tunnel to trick predators and in the end all of our groundhogs had a safe and cozy place to hibernate for the winter.