Investigating the Surface of the Iditarod Trail: STEM/Science Focus

Investigating the Surface of the Iditarod Trail by Kelly Shusko, Colonial School District, Delaware

Race Routes – Northern and Southern Routes

*This lesson was created for Kindergarten students but is applicable for other grade levels.

Standards and Application of lesson: Stem/Science/Social Studies- Geography, Social Emotional Learning

The purpose of this lesson is to have students plan and carry out an investigation about which surface is easier for dogs to pull the sled over.

The students also design their own dog sled based on a challenge they are given.

Using maps and images from the actual Iditarod Trail, students have to identify the cardinal directions of the trail, along with landforms and waterways that the mushers encounter.

The students will plan and conduct an investigation to determine which surface is the easiest for dogs to pull a sled on; Snow, Rocks, or Soil.

Engineering Challenge: The students will have a challenge to complete: You are mushing down the Iditarod Trail and your sled breaks. Oh No! Using only the materials in front of you, design and build a new dog sled. The sled has to be able to be pulled by dogs, slide on snow, and have a place for the musher to stand.

View the Lesson Plan here!

Sample Maps

Link to maps of the Iditarod Trail at Iditarod’s website.  (Printable map)

Science Notebook (PowerPoint)