Inquiry at Hinkle Creek Teacher Guide

Hinkle CreekDoing Science in Our Forests

This teachers guide is intended to accompany the Inquiry at Hinkle Creek Video, which you can obtain free of charge from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. The DVD traces a unique story of science at work in our forests. Researchers are using a huge 5,000-acre outdoor laboratory – a pair of watersheds in Southern Oregon – to evaluate the potential effects of logging on water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. These support materials are intended to enrich and extend the viewers’ learning by providing background information, getting them actively engaged in various parts of the inquiry process, or delving deeper into some of the topics introduced in the program.

Click on the processes below to explore the materials, hone in on particular skills, and access links to additional information.

Choosing questions to answer

  • Activity: Parallel Inquiry - After watching the video students identify questions the scientists needed to answer and then identify questions they will need to answer in their own study.

Identifying meaningful variables

  • Activity: Paper towel quality - The first step in selecting meaningful variables is making sure you have a good question. Students generate a list of variables for testing paper towels.
  • Activity: Tootsie Pop inquiry - This is a fun and tasty activity that illustrates the need for controlling variables.

Designing an experiment

  • Article: Protocols - A protocol is a set of formal rules describing how to do something. Protocols define the standards to be observed in completing a task. Learn more about protocols in this article.

Collecting data

  • Article: PIT tags - Were your students curious about the pit tags used in the DVD? This article explains the benefits and drawbacks to using PIT tags as well as responses to Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Activity: Catch and Release - To simulate the tracking of fish (or other animals) via unique identifiers students participate in tracking dollar bills

Displaying and analyzing data

  • Article: Think Like a Scientist - Taking nothing at face value, scientists are systematic skeptics, scrutinizing the stuff of everyday life and the cosmos alike with a “prove it” attitude
  • Activity: Variation
    Directions - Students "Think like a Scientist" as they use deductive logic to determine variables.
    Reproducible Score Sheet

Background Information - Watersheds

  • Activity: Individual Watershed Model - allows students to demonstrate their understanding of watersheds by constructing a simple model.
  • Online Tutorial: Introduction to Watershed Ecology - Use all or part of this for teacher background or for students. The tutorial is a product of the Environmental Protection Agency and consists of modules. Information includes basic biotic and abiotic components of watersheds, the basic natural processes and interrelationships occurring in watersheds, and how watershed structure and functions may vary in time and space.
  • Data: Locate Your Watershed - Do you and your students know what watershed they live in? Find the name of your watershed as well as information such as citizen groups and work being done in the watershed.

Research information - Find out more about the many studies being conducted at Hinkle Creek.

Correlations to Standards


Special thanks to Sue Smith who created this guide while working as an "Oregon Teacher on Special Assignment (ORTOSA)" with the Oregon Natural Resources Education Program (2007).