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The Task

The scenario is as follows:

1) You and two of your classmates will be assigned by the teacher to a randomly drawn biome.
2) Go to this link, look up your assigned biome's name, then research the sub-biomes / regions found listed under your assigned biome. Choose three sub-biomes/regions that you might want to be "stranded" in, write them down on a piece of paper along with the name of your biome, the names of the three castaways (inc. your team) who will form your "tribe", the date, and your period number.
3) Once assigned a biome and region, you will be "abandoned" there for one full year with nothing but one change of clothes, glasses/contacts if you wear them, and ONE stainless steel survival knife per tribe. Also, each member of the tribe may select ONE luxury item to bring with them.
4) Just as in any science based problem, you will do research on your biome and region before you are "cast away" and create a Travelogue (pamphlet, travel brochure, news report, etc.) to prepare yourselves and educate others about the ecosystem of your new home.
5) You will create a diary / journal describing the steps your tribe took to survive in the wilderness for the full year.
7) After working together long enough, bands of people begin to develop their own culture. In this phase of the project, you will describe the culture that your Tribe has created.
8) You as an individual will briefly describe the social dynamics of how you think the tribe functioned together.
9) The tribe will construct one example of an item, or "artifact", that your new culture has developed from natural materials obtained from your surroundings or create a game to keep the tribe occupied.
10) Finally, your Tribe will present its findings to other Tribes in a Cultural Showcase

Your reward? Instead of 1 million dollars, you will be rewarded 1 million POINTS! Just kidding, although considering the magnitude of this project, it will be worth a large part of your six week grade and should be treated accordingly, though you should have a little fun too!

Project Part 1: Surveying Your Situation

In order to survive in the wilderness, it is very important to first observe and explore your surroundings, then define your problem (= the first step of the Scientific Method). You must do this in order to: a) truly understand your situation; and b) inventory the resources available to your team.

For this reason, your first assignment will be to create a Travelogue describing your team's destination: the biome you have been assigned as your "wilderness". The Travelogue may be created in many forms: large poster / posterboard, travel brochure, newspaper, news report, documentary, pamphlet, etc. However, whatever the format, it MUST include each of the following:

1. A world map - labeled and colored-in wherever your biome is found. You should also clearly mark where your region is within the biome

2. Geology: Land forms - types of soil and topography (= shape of the land -- flat, hilly, mountainous, etc.)

3. Hydrology: sources, types, and effects of water (fresh and otherwise)

4. Meteorology: Climate throughout the year (inc. temperature, precipitation, winds, weather extremes)

5. Botany: List 10 species of common local plants and describe 3 of the most important in detail (include pictures); include their scientific names, and don't forget to underline or italicize them!

6. Zoology: List 10 species of local animals and describe 3 of the most important in detail (include pictures); include their scientific names, and again, don't forget to underline or italicize them!

7. Geography: Briefly describe any indigenous / native people or tribes that have lived or currently live in your region

8. Describe at least 3 possible natural hazards or problems from the environment your team might face (= how the environment can hurt you), and tell how you can avoid them

9. List any foods, medicines, and other resources (ex. minerals and metals) found in your biome

10. Describe the effects of any businesses (positive and/or negative) in the area on the environment and/or the economy

11. Outline any threats to the environment, especially those caused by humans (= how we can hurt the environment)

The Travelogue must have a cover page on it or attached to it which includes the following:

1. The name of the biome and the region you are "stranded" in
2. A picture of your biome (drawn, cut-out of a book or magazine, printed from computer)
3. A tribe name, logo; must deal with something in your biome including plants, animals, native tribe(s), weather phenomena, etc.)
4. The names of every tribe member
5. Class period and date

The Travelogue must be typed or neatly written using all the correct grammar rules you have learned in English. It should also include an MLA "Works Cited" page listing ALL sources of information used in your research in the format taught to you in your classes. Finally, you should also include a list of who did what work, signed by every tribe member.


___  Cover page (including picture / drawing of biome) = 10 points

___  Map = 10 points

___  10 paragraphs of information on your biome (typed or very neatly written AND grammatically correct)

___  Climatogram = 10 points

___  Labeled pictures of 3 plants and 3 animals = 30 points

___  Works Cited page (include ALL sources of information in CORRECT format) = 15 points (Must include at least 6 properly cited references: 3 print + 3 electronic/Internet)

___  List of "Who Did What", signed by all members = 5 points

Project Part 2: Survival!

In a survival situation, once the area has been surveyed, it's time to think about how your team is going to exist in your new environment. You must utilize the resources you described in Part One to overcome the problems you listed. This should be done in the form of a journal or diary entries. The difference is that this time, your strategies are your own and should be based on what you have learned about your biome. Keep in mind that your strategies for survival might differ with each season. YOUR TRIBE must describe how you will take care of the following needs using only natural, native materials, and the items you have brought with you:

1. Introductory paragraph describing your situation, including the one luxury item each member is allowed to bring with them.

2. Fresh water
    a. How would your team find, get, transport and store fresh water

3. Food
    a. Draw and label a food web including the sun, decomposers, and your team! Must
        include the 3 plants and 3 animals you described in detail in Part One
    b. Describe what you might eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; include recipes if necessary

4. Making fire
    a. How would your team make and sustain  a fire

5. Finding / Building shelter
    a. Describe how, where, and with what your shelter will be constructed
    [b. Build a 3-D model of your biome and campsite (see "Biome in a Box" activity) -- details later]

6. Protection / Defense / Weaponry
    a. Describe how your team would protect its camp, its members and its gear, as well
        as how you would make 1 weapon and/or trap that could be made naturally (include a labeled

7. Clothing
    a. Draw and describe what types of clothes could be constructed from local naturally
        occurring materials to replace your clothes when they wear out (draw and describe at least
        ONE complete outfit)

8. Tool making (describe at least 3 natural non-weapon tools)
    a. Include pictures and descriptions of how and why they were made, their specific
        purpose, materials used, etc.

9. Sanitation
    a. Describe where and how would you dispose of wastes, as well as how you will keep your
        camp and yourselves clean (no need for pictures here!)

10. Transportation
    a. Draw and describe at least 1 method you will devise to move people and objects
        from one place to another (carrying does not count, unless it involves tools of
        some sort)

11. Entertainment
    a. Create a game or sport of some kind to keep yourselves occupied using only native
        materials found in your environment; you must include a description, rules, pieces,
        playing area, etc.

NOTE: Again, this journal must be typed or well written using all the correct grammar rules you have learned in English. Your report MUST be written in the style of a journal or logbook, and therefore be in 1st-person perspective (I made..., We did..., etc.). Be imaginative and creative!

(HINT: Research a tribe or culture which lives in an area with a biome similar to yours and find out how THEY fulfill all of the survival needs covered in your report. Experience is the best teacher...)


___  Attach cover from Part 1 = 10 points

___  11 paragraph report (typed or very neatly written in 1st-person AND grammatically correct)

___  "Biome in a Box" = 50 points (details later)

___  List of "Who Did What", signed by all members = 5 points



Project Part 3: Culture Building (30 points)

Once a group of people have learned to adapt to their surroundings, they inevitably begin to form a new culture that defines a people and the way they live. Each tribe will describe its own culture that developed based on the challenges it faced from the environment, and the personalities and needs of its members. That is what you have done during the course of this adventure: you have become a people of your own, for better or for worse.

In this phase of the project, each Tribe is responsible for writing a report (with heading, inc. the name of your Tribe) describing the new culture that formed after Parts 1 through 4. It must include the following information:

1) Politics - a Tribe, like any other organization, must have certain rules that its members abide by. Describe the leadership structure (type of leader, if any, and the leader's title "chief", "headman", "ruler", etc.) and division of responsibility (shared or specialized) of your Tribe. Political and cultural bodies usually have symbols to represent them. To this end, you should design and draw a flag or banner for your Tribe

2) Language - some cultures have multiple words for a common natural phenomeon (ex. Inuit with many words for different types of snow), while another culture might have NO word for the same phenomena (ex. a trribe living in the tropics). Your Tribe must create and define 3 new words that would be important in describing something unique about your situation and/or environment

3) Myth and Legend - oftentimes, humorous, heroic, or tragic stories develop into legends with perpetual re-tellings over time (the Flood, the Boogeyman, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table). Describe a story of something that happened to your Tribe while you were working together, then embellish it. That is, exaggerate it so that it becomes epic and/or mythical. This is extra credit

4) Cryptozoology - many peoples have legends about strange and wondrous creatures (dragons, giants, the Cyclops, the Chimera, etc.) that are usually just fantastic versions of real-life organisms or combinations of organisms. These mythical beasts are very often used to inspire fear or wonder. Create, describe, and draw your own mythical creature based on plants and animals from your region

5) Constellations - when looking at the stars, people tend to see fanciful images created by connecting certain stars which prove useful to navigating on land or sea. These images are known as "constellations", and they generally resemble and are named for natural features, animals, and/or legendary people or creatures (ex. Hercules, Pegasus, Scorpio, the Big Dipper). Using the 2 blank star maps provided by the teacher, draw, label, and describe 3 constellations in the North sky map, then do the same for the South sky map. This is extra credit

6) Holidays / Festivals - most cultures create holidays or festivals to celebrate important dates and/or events. Create and describe a holiday that would be very important to your Tribe



Project Part 4: Artifact! (50 points)

In addition to the journal / diary, your tribe is also responsible for actually building a model of one of the artifacts (NOT weapons) described by your Tribe in your journal for Part Two.

This may include any of the following: a tool, pottery, a basket, a model of a form of transportation, clothing, jewelry, a shield, artwork, or a food dish. Keep in mind that regardless of what you make, it MUST be made only from native materials found in your environment (thus no glass, plastic, steel, polyester, etc.). Further, it must be MADE by hand, not bought, although store-bought kits may be used. Materials could include: wood, plant material, leather, stone, clay, cotton, dyes, berries, feathers, beads, mud, etc. Again, research a culture native to your biome for ideas.

    Project Part 5: Presentation

The end result will be a class cultural showcase. Each Tribe will display display the results of its "adventure" through use of the travelogue, journal, pictures, biome-in-a-box, and natural artifact. Your group might also create a video, slide show, computer program or other multi-media presentation that will be shared with the class and graded.


You will be using materials located in the library media center, the public library, local college libraries, and on the Internet. You may use other electronic resources such as CD-ROM programs and periodical databases. You may also interview experts in the various fields. Remember, however, to ALWAYS CITE YOUR SOURCES!

Recommended Internet sites may be found at the Links Page.


The completion of this adventure will demonstrate:
  1. Knowledge of the geography, climate and biodiversity of your assigned ecosystem.
  2. An awareness of the indigenous people of the area and an understanding of their culture.
  3. An understanding of the economic and social issues surrounding the use of the biome's natural resources.
  4. An awareness of the global environmental impact of deforestation and misuse of resources.
  5. Evidence of the links between the way people live and the environment they live in.


Have a fun and enlightening trip, explorers!

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adapted from

Survival within the 
Circle of Life

by Lynda Barraca

Adapted by:

Last Modified by Peggy Molina on 12/08/04