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Ideas for Project-based Learning

You CAN make a difference and learn something new. Here's how! These Project-based Learning ideas were generated from TPWD staff at Texas State Parks, State Historical Sites and Wildlife Management Areas. Contact your local park, historic site or Wildlife Management Area to see what opportunities are available near you.

State Parks

Construction and maintenance of trails, trimming vegetation, species identification and recording

Removal of exotic plants on the parks nature trail

  • Remove non-indigenous plants from the eco-system
  • Learn plant identification & natural relationships within plant communities

Rebuild footbridge

  • Utilize math skills & gain valuable hands-on light construction

Documentation of dinosaur tracks

  • Clean tracks
  • Erosion control
  • Stabilization of site

Help create teacher's packet

(See suggested contents included in this guide)

Develop brochure on the how-to of Low Impact Camping and its benefits

Research history of land use of this park prior to its acquisition and development

  • Research importance of local industry to development of area & park
  • Learn historical research techniques
  • See how historical use of resources can effect modern-day resource management

Develop kiosk for trails

  • conduct research
  • design kiosk
  • construction


  • Development of a kiosk that informs park visitors of potential flooding danger or dangers specific to that park
  • Research history of past floods to the area and their effect on the region

Development of Nature Trail

(A school group could become part of this project by taking charge of one specific task)

  • Marking and finding best places for trail to go
  • Plant identification and recording
  • Habitat identification
  • Production of brochure for trail
  • Collect data on birds that visit park during what seasons of the year and develop an identification key
  • Set mammal traps to assist park in identification of animals common to area
  • Identify species that live in river
  • No end to possibilities
  • Develop a master plan for completion of project

Wildscape Development and Maintenance

  • Soil preparation
  • Research on native plants and other plants acclimated to the area
  • Planting of wildscape
  • Weeding and upkeep
  • Develop signs with plant identification
  • Map of wildscape with plant species identified

"The options here are wide open" Comment made by Park Ranger

Historical Sites

Police for litter in and around park

  • Classify litter and keep records of the amounts and types of litter collected as an ongoing project

Take photographs for developing a display

Compile lists of:

  • Birds
  • Wildflowers
  • Butterflies
  • Plantings (trees, bushes, shrubs)

Conduct demonstrations during park tours

Hike/Bike/Equestrian Trail maintenance and improvements

Plant wildflower seeds

Mesquite tree eradication

Compile a list of birds found in the park

Grounds upkeep

  • Prune & fertilize roses in Spring
  • Clear undesirable plants & vines from perimeter of park
  • Construct bluebird & bat boxes
  • Butterfly & hummingbird garden
  • 19th century cutting garden (flowers)
  • 19th century kitchen garden

Assist park with

  • A taste of Christmas Past
  • County Fair Exhibit
  • Wildlife Expo Exhibit
  • Freedom Fiesta Float (July 4th parade)

Research history and develop display for interpretive center at park

Assist with historical lighting display that demonstrates how lighting has been used and how it has changed over history

Assistance maintaining our Living Laboratory display

Monarch Watch

  • Opportunity for students to tag butterflies for the Monarch Watch program using our park Monarch Roost

Assist with our Living History Camp

  • 19th century medicines
  • herbal remedies
  • folk medicine
  • home remedies

Planting tree break

  • park is developing a portion of the park into an 1850's time period
  • Park needs a tree break to separate the 1850's section from the rest of the park. Students could research the best type trees for this purpose and submit ideas to park
  • Students could participate in the planting of trees
  • Construction of rail fence

Book drives

  • Students could collect old books and create a library for the park


  • Research and make historic toys and games used in your area of Texas
  • Newspaper research on leisure time and daily living activities in your area of Texas
  • Marketing research-interviews, oral histories, and analysis on Historic House museums in the community
  • Recent floods took out 80% of our park's trees. Conduct experiments and data gathering on the effects of the flood (i.e. how native trees are adapted to floods where exotic's are not. Physics of flooding, erosion, and re-channelization.)

Development and implementation of historic herb garden

  • Research and select appropriate historic herbs for herb garden
  • Develop planting schematic
  • Assist in locating plants and seeds
  • Plant and maintain garden
  • Write a brochure describing historic herbs
  • Provide on-site interpretation to site visitors

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility

  • Video tape or slide show of historical house for ADA and outreach use
  • Construction of benches and ramps
  • Productions of Audio Tape Tour

Exhibition development

  • Regional building types
  • Architecture and construction
  • How and why did people live the way they lived
  • 19th century environment of area

Develop time period gardens

  • implement garden construction
  • research plants and gardens used at the historic site
  • conduct ongoing maintenance of gardens

Nature Studies

  • Species of birds present in the area year-round or seasonally. Students could use information to develop methods of attracting more birds to the park
  • Trash pick-up and ecological studies of the impact of trash upon native flora and fauna
  • Make watercolor pictures of native flora and fauna found in park

Wildlife Management Areas

 The goal of WMAs is to serve as a wildlife research demonstration area where biologists study and evaluate wildlife and habitat management practices.

Building and placement of wood duck and bat boxes

Interpretive trail upkeep and maintenance

  • Gravel
  • Vegetation trimming
  • Fence maintenance and boundary posting

Erosion control

  • Move rocks from field to make low dams, which will help slow water flow and minimize erosion

Habitat management

  • Cutting small cedars
  • Debris removal before doing a prescribed burn
  • Planting native grass seeds in different places at the WMA
  • Coordinate with Highway Department to collect clippings after they mow the roadsides and bring it to the WMA. They could scatter it with some soil to help establish plants in the WMA.

Seasonal hunts

  • Data collection at check in sites during hunting season
  • Could assist in research of wildlife management and population control

Wetlands, Prairie, Marsh Restoration Project

  • Planting of trees, grasses
  • Reforestation

Hiking/interpretive trail development

  • Many Wildlife Management Areas do not have hiking trails or interpretive trails since their major purpose is to demonstrate proper management practices. Students or teachers involved in an ongoing project could develop hiking/interpretive trails, survey the local species and produce literature for visitors

Suggested contents for developing Teacher Packets

The following ideas have been generated by example packets and teaching developed at several sites.

  • Background Information on the site
  • Brief description of site
  • Directions on how to reach park
  • Maps of the park
  • Reservation information
  • Facilities
  • Suggestions for a successful field trip
  • Student etiquette of park guidelines for behavior
  • First aid information
  • Proposed itinerary
  • Suggested checklist for teacher contact with park personnel
  • Cultural history
  • Geological history
  • Natural region of Texas
  • Habitat types
  • Script for interpretive displays or exhibit room
  • Guide to Woody and Herbaceous Plants
  • Copy of trail guide stations
  • Copy of checklists for wildlife
  • Suggestions for pre-trip and post-trip activities
  • Activities from Project WILD and Aquatic WILD adapted to your site
  • Blackline copies that are reproducible by the teacher
  • Other educational facilities or sites in your area
  • Slide program for pre-trip use to prepare group before visit

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