From A to Balto: Students learn all about the Iditarod
Third-graders in Staci Verge’s class grilled a National Parks Service ranger on Friday to find out more about the park service’s sled dog program.
Verge’s students at Grandview Elementary School communicated via Skype with a park service representative from Denali National Park. Denali is in Wasilla, Alaska. Much of the park grounds in the wilderness are impassible by vehicles. Rangers use sled dog teams to navigate those areas in winter.
The Skype session tied into a lesson on Balto, the Siberian Husky sled dog who led his team on the final leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome, inspiration for the annual Iditarod. Students will also be following the Iditarod sled dog race later this year. In science, the two third-grade classes have learned about animal adaptations.
“We read about Balto in reading who is a famous sled dog,” said Verge. “In science, they’ve been learning about animal adaptations. It tied into both reading and science. We’re going to be following the Iditarod when it comes in March. We’ll be following that as well.
“They were so interested today.”
Students learned more about animal adaptations on Friday and were fascinated by the results.
A good sled dog, the park ranger explained, had five main adaptations to help them in their work: Two different types of fur keep dogs warm and dry, thick tough toe pads make it easier for travel, a bushy tail helps a dog breathe easier when curled up and laying down, a longer tongue aides in panting to stay cool while running and counter-current circulation keeps blood flow warm in their bodies.
“I think the thing I found interesting is their arteries and their veins were put together so that their body wasn’t too cold and it wasn’t too hot,” said Sam Raudabaugh.
“I didn’t know that they had two layers of fur,” said Haley Colby.
Students also learned background about the park, which is the home to Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest mountain peak.
But, it was the sled dog lesson that had students talking the most.
“I liked how it told us that when they get tired and the dogs take a break, they curl up and put their bushy tail over their nose,” said Garrett Swatsburg.
Reported by BRIAN HALL of the Public Opinion from from CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. Hall can be reached at 262-4811 and firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @bkhallpo. (MCT)