Ecology/Conservation
Protecting the Earth for future generations takes first learning about our planet, the environment, and how the ecosystem works. Get ecology teaching tips, project ideas, and more.
Things to See & Do in New Mexico
Navajo State Park
Navajo State Park is Colorado's Answer to Lake Powell. Navajo Reservoir Extends for 20 miles South into New Mexico. Boaters and campers enjoy the park year-round. Sailors, houseboaters and other power boaters cruise some of the 15,000 surface-acres of the giant reservoir. Daily and seasonal slip and mooring ball rentals, boat rentals and gasoline for boats are available at the park’s Two Rivers Marina. Navajo’s campgrounds have 138 campsites; most sites are open year-round. Fishing​ enthusiasts catch crappie, large-mouth and small-mouth bass, northern pike, trout, bluegill and catfish in the reservoir.​
Albuquerque Biological Park
The Albuquerque Biological Park includes Albuquerque Aquarium, Rio Grande Botanic Garden, Rio Grande Zoo and, in the near future, Tingley Aquatic Park. The BioPark has an estimated 6,000 animals, 11,000 plants, 300 staff and 350 volunteers.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Established to preserve Carlsbad Cavern and numerous other caves within a Permian-age fossil reef, the park contains more than 100 known caves, including Lechuguilla Cave—the nation's deepest limestone cave at 1,567 feet (478m) and third longest. Carlsbad Cavern, with one of the world's largest underground chambers and countless formations, is highly accessible, with a variety of tours offered year-round.
White Sands National Monument
At the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert lies a mountain ringed valley called the Tularosa Basin. Rising from the heart of this basin is one of the world's great natural wonders - the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Here, great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert and have created the world's largest gypsum dune field. The brilliant white dunes are ever changing: growing, cresting, then slumping, but always advancing. Slowly but relentlessly the sand, driven by strong southwest winds, covers everything in its path. Within the extremely harsh environment of the dune field, even plants and animals adapted to desert conditions struggle to survive. Only a few species of plants grow rapidly enough to survive burial by moving dunes, but several types of small animals have evolved a white coloration that camouflages them in the gypsum sand. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this gypsum dune field, along with the plants and animals that have successfully adapted to this constantly changing environment.
Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park
Dedicated to the interpretation of the Chihuahuan Desert, Living Desert State Park in Carlsbad is an indoor/outdoor living museum displaying more than 40 native animal species and hundreds of succulents from around the world. While on the 1.3 mile self-guided tour, which takes approximately 1.5 hours, visitors will discover sand dunes and mountainous areas, where pinon and juniper trees contrast with the desert floor below.
Alameda Park Zoo
The Alameda Park Zoo in Alamogordo was established in 1898 with a small collection of waterfowl and deer. The park served as a diversion for weary railway travelers to enjoy as the steam locomotives refueled. Today the well shaded, seven acre Zoo is home to 90 different species, nearly 300 animals. Visitors enjoy playful otters, colorful birds, endangered wolves, and are entertained by the antics of a variety of monkeys. The Zoo also offers travelers a shaded picnic area and playground on seven acres of city park.
El Malpais National Monument
El Malpais National Monument and Conservation Area near Grants, New Mexico, preserves 114,277 acres of which 109,260 acres are federal and 5,017 acres are private. El Malpais means "the badlands" but contrary to its name this unique area holds many surprises, many of which researchers are now unraveling. Volcanic features such as lava flows, cinder cones, pressure ridges and complex lava tube systems dominate the landscape. Sandstone bluffs and mesas border the eastern side, providing access to vast wilderness. For more than 10,000 years people have interacted with the El Malpais landscape. Historic and archeological sites provide reminders of past times. More than mere artifacts, these cultural resources are kept alive by the spiritual and physical presence of contemporary Indian groups, including the Puebloan peoples of Acoma, Laguna,and Zuni, and the Ramah Navajo. These tribes continue their ancestral uses of El Malpais including gathering herbs and medicines, paying respect, and renewing ties.
Capulin Volcano National Monument
Mammoths, giant bison, and short-faced bears were witness to the first tremblings of the earth and firework-like explosions of molten rock thousands of feet into the air. Approximately 60,000 years ago, the rain of cooling cinders and four lava flows formed Capulin Volcano, a nearly perfectly-shaped cinder cone, rising more than 1000 feet above the surrounding landscape. Although long extinct, Capulin Volcano is dramatic evidence of the volcanic processes that shaped northeastern New Mexico. Today the pine forested volcano provide habitat for mule deer, wild turkey, and black bear. A 2-mile road spiraling to the top of the volcano and paved trails into the crater and around its rim provide access to explore the volcano and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding volcanic landscape.
Activities & Experiments
ExploraVision
ExploraVision is a competition for all students in grades K-12 attending a school in the U.S., Canada, U.S. Territory or a Department of Defense school. Homeschooled students are eligible to enter. It is designed to encourage students to combine their imagination with their knowledge of science and technology to explore visions of the future. Teams of students select a technology, research how it works and why it was invented, and then project how that technology may change in the future. They must then identify what breakthroughs are required for their vision to become a reality and describe the positive and negative consequences of their technology on society. Winning ideas have focused on things as simple as ballpoint pens and as complex as satellite communications. The student teams write a paper and draw a series of Web page graphics to describe their idea. Regional winners make a Web site and a prototype of their future vision.
Handbook of Nature Study
Based on Charlotte Mason's method of education, this website offers ideas and resources for incorporation nature study into your homeschool.
Arbor Day National Poster Contest
Join over 74,000 fifth grade classrooms and home schools across America in the Arbor Day National Poster Contest. The theme chosen will increase your students’ knowledge of how trees produce and conserve energy. The free Activity Guide includes activities to use with fifth grade students to teach the importance of trees in producing and conserving energy. These activities correlate with National Science and Social Study Standards. The Guide also includes all of the information you need for poster contest participation.
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