Desert landscapes are found all over the world. They have unique features, weather patterns and wildlife, thus making them excellent topics to learn about in class. Since deserts offer so many topics to learn about, there are a wide array of class projects that can be done to help students learn about them.
Desert Survival Plan
The desert can be a harsh and unforgiving landscape for anyone caught off guard. Because the factors that make up this particular landscape are so unique, one interesting class project could be to put together a hypothetical survival pack and plan. Create an imagined situation where the students may be required to survive in the desert. Incorporate information on the landscape, including typical weather patterns and geographical aspects of a desert. Then, ask the students to use their knowledge of the desert to put together a survival plan. Ask them to include food rations, equipment for building shelter and other necessary gear. Depending on the students' age, a list could be provided from which the most important equipment can be chosen, or the students can come up with the entire plan by themselves, perhaps in groups, and present them to the class.
Humidity and Crystal Growth
A common school project involves growing crystals, where a crystal-growing medium is mixed together and used to build crystals on a surface, whether it is a rock or a piece of string. An interesting project will be to consider the effect humidity has on crystal growth. Since deserts are so dry, this project can suggest to students how crystals grow differently in various environments. A desiccant can be added to the crystal-growing solution, which induces a dry atmosphere similar to that of a desert. Compare the growth of crystals in that environment to the growth of crystals in an environment with higher humidity.
Sand dunes are created by the wind. Heavier particles make up the base of the dune, typically, while fine pieces of sand lie on top, since they are carried higher and further by a breeze. A project that uses students' creativity as well as what they learn about sand dune formation is creating a desert landscape. This can be done as a class using a sandbox, or individually. Take some sand in a flat container and add rocks to create a miniature desert replica. Then, using small personal fans, mimic a breeze to form sand dunes using the landscape that was created. Notice how the dunes moves like ripples in water and make sure the class understands the natural movement and fluidity of sand dunes.
A fun, creative project for younger students is to create a desert field book or catalog of the plants and animals that live in the desert. Choose one desert or desert region and ask students to put together a book of 10 to 20 different species. They should illustrate the species and point out notable physical features, give vital information like their size and name, and list other pertinent information, including behavioral habits, diet and any fun facts students may find in their research. This is a great project to show parents or put on display in the classroom.
- desert 8 image by Dusan Radivojevic from Fotolia.com