ESCAPE! 2012

Earth Science Community Action ProjEct! 

"Is That Some High Quality H2O?"
Exploring the Yellowstone River and its Effect on Billings, MT

ESCAPE! 2012


ESCAPE! is a semester-long activity that integrates the topics of the Earth Science curriculum into what is happening in our world and community. The project is a chance for students to learn about the Earth through using an integrated approach of hands-on activities, inquiry-based observations, and project-based curriculum.  Honors Earth Science classes will, through observations and research, determine a topic of interest within the Billings community that can be studied and analyzed both in the classroom and in the field. 

The goal of the project is three-fold:

1.  Help students realize that science is dynamic, happens in real-time, and gives them a platform to relate the content with their world.

2. Help students spur action within themselves and the community

3. Help students realize that they have a voice within their community.


-After the City Council Decision to remove Disc Golf from a local park, students submit a report to Billings Parks and Recreation outlining best use of Pioneer Park based on data collected from erosion testing, grass type growth, topographic mapping, and soil charting/mapping.

-After an oil spill in the river, students organize and invite the community to an Oil Check Day along the Yellowstone River where people walk along the banks looking for evidence of oil on the shore. Students use baseline data after comprehensively testing: soil samples for oil content, bird counts, water testing (ph, DO, salinity, nitrates, hydrocarbons, etc)

-After several boulders fell off the Rimrocks, students submit a report outlining the areas where boulder falling is most likely and where it is most likely to impact residents to the City Code Division. The information in the report is based off of: research and mapping of large cracks in Rimrocks, mapping zones of residence proximity to Rimrocks, data from erosion testing, data from slope testing.


 Timeline (rough order) 
Topics in RED were completed as part of our project: "Rediscovering Pioneer Park"

Activity 1: Natural Observation

Activity 2: Data Collection Through Inquiry

Activity 3: Analyze Data

Activity 4: Present Findings to Class

Activity 5: ESCAPE! Theme brainstorm/Choosing a theme
Activity 6: Building the Project - Friday, 10/26
  • Why is Yellowstone River Water Quality important?
  • What will we be studying?
  • Who will be interested in hearing about what we've learned?
  • What sorts of tests/experiments/research will be needed?

Work on the following for Thursday and Friday: 11/1/2012, 11/2/2012
**Draft should be created and research should be started before you get to class on Tuesday 11/6.2012**

Activity 7: Creating your ESCAPE! Report rough draft
Starting your rough draft
  • Create a new D2 Document by signing into your D2 account. Go to, click on "students" then "D2 student apps", then "documents". Unless you have changed it, your login is: firstname.lastname and your password is your student ID #.
  • Title the Document, "ESCAPE 2012 Period ? Firstname Lastname DRAFT" but fill in the Period portion with your class period.
  • Once created, click "Share" in the upper right hand corner 
    • Share the document with me ( and change the settings to "can edit" so I can help you work on your document
    • Did you change your settings to "can edit"? If not I will not be able to give you a grade! So, go back and change it if you did not already do so.

Activity 8: Researching the Issues
  • Put a section in your rough draft titled "Background Research"
    • This section will include ALL research you do for this project. If you use a website, be sure to copy/past the url (site address) into this section of your DRAFT.
    • You will need to include the proper MLA Citations for these references when you turn in your FINAL Report.
  • What to research?
    • Learn everything you need to know to help make this a successful project. Remember, you will be turning in your own report at the end. You should not ONLY be researching Yellowstone River Water Quality, there should be a whole lot more to this project than JUST testing water.
  • Thinking/Researching?
    • What tests should we do?
    • What experiments should we do?
    • What other research should we do?
DRAFT will be graded up to this point on Thursday 11/12/2012

Activity 9: Due Friday 11/8/2012
Activity 9: Defining your goals

In order to plan this project we must be able to answer each of the following. In this activity, restate the question and answer each with complete thoughts and sentences.

  1. For you, what is the goal of this project?
  2. What do you need to do to attain this goal?
  3. What do you hope to gain/learn from this?
  4. One of the most important aspects of ESCAPE! is taking the information and data from this project and using it to improve or inform our Community (Earth Science Community Action ProjEct). How will you use your report, data, and experiences to help our Community? 

Activity 10 and 11: Due Monday 11/12/2012
Activity 10: Tying in Earth Science Curriculum
The major component of ESCAPE! is going to be water quality testing on the Yellowstone River, however, we have several topics of curriculum that we need to cover in Fall Semester. Some of the topics are listed below. 

Make a table similar to the table below (use the "table" button on Google Docs)

 Curriculum topic      How will you tie this topic into ESCAPE? What labs, research and/or activities will you need to do?
 Earth's Resources  
 Water Quality  

Activity 11: Mapping the Research Site

We will have the bus for approximately 3 hours which means we should have time for at least 5 testing sites. 

  • Go to  
  • Click "My Places"
  • Click "Create Map"
  • Title your map: "ESCAPE Firstname Lastname Period ?"
  • Add a description about what your map is (you may have to do this after you create your map)
What should be on your map?
  • According to what you described as your goals (Activity 9) and the curriculum topics (Activity 10):
    • Choose at least 5 sites along the Yellowstone River (that will be accessible by bus; there must be a road or some sort of access to the sites you choose or we won't be able to reach that spot).
    • These should EACH BE CAREFULLY THOUGHT OUT, not random!
    • Place a "bubble marker" (button is at the top of the mapping screen) by clicking the button then clicking a spot on the map.
      • The bubble should show up with a box to type in.
      • Name the site
      • Add a DETAILED description of the following for each bubble:
        • What are we testing at this site (ex. water quality, erosion, size of is up to you)
        • WHY we should test at this spot.
    • Be sure you have a minimum of 5 carefully thought out locations.
What should you put in your DRAFT?
  • On the upper left hand side of the Map screen there is a hyperlink button (looks like a small chain). Click the button and a box will appear.
    • Highlight the the url (address), copy it, and paste it in Activity 11 on your DRAFT
  • Below the link finish the following statement:
    • I chose my sites based on ... (describe with multiple sentences)

View ESCAPE! 2012 in a larger map

Activity 12: Field Testing Water at Sites Along the Yellowstone
Click the link below to access the data table spreadsheet:

Activity 13: Describing the testing sites
  1. Write a description for each of the testing sites
    • One short descriptive paragraph for each.

Activity 14: Data Analysis
  1. Access the data spreadsheet from Activity 12.
  2. Find the AVERAGE for each of the parameters we tested at each site.
    • Record these averages in your Data Book
Activity 15: Charting and Graphing the Data
  1. Go to your D2 "Drive". Create a new Spreadsheet titled "ESCAPE Data"
  2. Create a chart (data table) of the averages you calculated for each parameter.
    • Click HERE for an example (fake data)
  3. Create a graph showing data for each of the parameters we tested, clearly label them each data point and label the chart.
  4. Create at least 3 more graphs showing comparison of data.
    • Examples of possible comparisons
      • Air temp vs. water temp at all four sites
      • Conductivity at all sites
      • Conductivity at locations downstream of bridges vs conductivity at locations not near bridges.
Activity 16: Discussion of Data
  1. Write a description and explanation for EACH graph explaining how you analyzed the data and what you can conclude from your comparison.
    • You will put these below the graph on your final report
      • Each graph must have a description below it. 
    • Ex. Chart 1 "Air Temperature vs. Water Temperature shows the temperature of air and water at each testing site..."
Activity 17: Conclusion
This is the summary of the project. Pretend that somebody may only read your conclusion, from this, they should have a good understand of what you found, what the data taught you, and what you learned from this project. You might also include future work that could be done based on what you found in the data, or any questions that might have arisen that would require more testing to answer. Show me your amazing concluding skills here!

Activity 18: Assembling the Final Report

Click here for the: Final Report Template

Click the link above for help formatting your final draft.

Past Projects: