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Hi, Deer!
Estimating the Size of the Florida Key Deer Population by Census Simulation

This lesson is written by Master Teacher Thomas Beard Trocco.
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Grade Level
Time Alloment
 Four 40-minute meetings


Students will be engaged by a video clip showing the Florida Key deer and how they are threatened. Students will then carry out Internet research to discover more about the deer. They will apply animal census techniques in a simulation using beans designed to show the difficulties biologists face in determining the size of a population. The activity will close with a discussion of how the deer can be helped to survive.

Learning Activities

Students will be able to:

  • Collect, organize by table, and examine census data in a simulation
  • Estimate the size of the population in the simulation
  • Make predictions based on the collection of census simulation data
  • Make journal entries to justify conclusions reached in the simulation


National Science Education Content Standards, 5-8, National Research Council, 1996

Standard A:
Develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry; understandings about scientific inquiry

Standard C: Develop an understanding of regulation and behavior; populations and ecosystems

New York City Middle School English-Language Arts Standards

Standard E1c: Reading
Read and comprehend informational materials

Standard E3b: Speaking and Listening
Participate in group meetings

New York City Middle School Mathematics Standards

Standard M4a: Statistics and Probability Concepts
Organize and display data

Standard M6c: Mathematical Skills and Tools
Estimate numerically

National Educational Technology Standards for Students

Standard 5: Technology Research Tools
Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.

Media Components

Integrated Science, Episode # 1

Web sites for Whole Class Work:

Interactive Map
click here
This site allows users to zoom in and out and shift north, south, east, or west to explore the region in question: the Florida Keys. If you don't have a clickable link to this map, then go to and enter "Key West" for the city and "Florida" for the state.

Key Deer Research Project, Texas A&M University
This site allows you to simulate radio-tracking Florida Key deer on No Name Key

Web Sites for Small Group Work:

A: Florida Key Deer Research Project
This project site provides information on the Florida Key Deer Research Project. This is a major effort by Texas A&M University researchers to learn more about Florida Key deer. The study promises to provide a better understanding on the effect of urban development on Key deer movements, habitat use, and behavior. In addition, the study will provide an updated estimate on the size of the deer herd.

B: Florida Environment
This site consists of radio program transcripts and audio files on Florida Key deer. Real Audio Player is required to play the audio files. You can download a free version from

C: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
This site contains important and interesting facts on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge.

D: Endangered Animals
Created and maintained by three Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University students; contains information on Florida Key deer reproduction, distribution, population, and habitat with suggestions on how to manage and protect them.

E: Museum of Science, Inc. (Miami, Florida)
Contains good information on the Florida Key deer and the mangrove swamp in general.

F: The Florida Keys & Key West Guide
Focuses on why feeding Florida Key deer is harmful to them.

Links to CNN article "Growing Human Population Rivals Endangered Key Deer," July 27, 2000, by Mark Potter. Includes a video of deer being tagged. QuickTime, Real Player or Windows Media is required to view the video. You can download QuickTime free from You can download Real Audio Player free from You can download Windows Media Player from


Teacher Materials:

Forest Box:

  • Empty shoebox or tissue box per each team of four students (if you use clear plastic shoeboxes, you will need dark construction or contact paper to cover the sides of the shoe boxes)
  • Wrapping paper, green with a floral patten (enough to cover the inside bottom of the boxes -- one sheet should be sufficient for four forest box bottoms)
  • Wax paper - 4" x 4" piece for each forest box
  • Beans (4 red kidney beans, 3 pink beans, 3 pinto beans, and 6 lentils for each forest box)

    Deer Key:
  • Beans (1 red kidney bean, 1 pink bean, 1 pinto bean, and 1 lentil for each key
  • Glue (white school glue)