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Published: January 12, 2021

Professor Collaborates With National Park Service in Transforming Wild Horse Research Into Free Curriculum

Jessa Madosky, professor of instruction I, biology, has been researching a population of wild horses in Shackleford Banks, NC, for more than a decade. When one of her collaborators at the National Park Service wrote a grant to develop a curriculum on the horses for elementary and middle schools, Madosky was named the main researcher on the grant.

wild horses in Shackleford Banks, NC
Jessa Madosky, professor of instruction I, biology, has been researching of a population of wild horses in Shackleford Banks, NC, for more than a decade. Her research is now the basis for a free curriculum for elementary and middle schools.

The free curriculum, which became available this past summer on the National Park Service’s website and can be viewed at bit.ly/35UShex, is based on some of Madosky’s published and unpublished work and includes three lesson plans.

  • “Horses and Humans” teaches children how to measure a safe dis­tance when interacting with the horses, analyze their body language and learn how to respond appropriately in different scenarios to ensure safety.
  • “Past, Present and Future” uses maps, charts, graphs and narra­tives to explain historic events and teaches students how to distinguish between primary and secondary sources of information.
  • “Genetics and Evolution” teaches kids how to analyze the rela­tionship between genetic variation and an organism’s ability to adapt to its environment, recognize patterns of heredity and understand that geology, fossils, genetic variation and comparative anatomy provide evidence of biological and geological evolution.

While putting all of this together (pre-pandemic), Madosky recruit­ed two UT students to collect scientific data about the horses and took teachers into the field to spend a day in the life of a wild horse researcher. She then reviewed the curriculum before it was published, providing what you might call ‘yay or neigh’ feedback on its accuracy. The result is a galloping success. 

This story first appeared in the Winter 2021 UT Journal


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