For Educators

Order Products

Login / My Account



It's Elemental My Dear! What Makes an Experience Different at Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

This article is from Issue Wilderness Benefits - Vol. 7 No. 1.

* Note: All editions of the Natural Inquirer starting with Volume 5 and including future editions require the newest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 in order to be downloaded. We have upgraded in order to ensure greater accessibility to PDF files. Please click on the following link if you need to upgrade your Adobe Acrobat reader: Upgrade now to Adobe Reader 6.0. It is a free upgrade.



In this study, the scientists wanted to identify the most important elements of an experience in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. 

Welcome to the Wilderness Benefits edition

Note to Educators

Wilderness Benefits Lesson Plan

Reflection Section Answer Guide

Education Standards Correlations


Meet the scientists that contributed to this article:

"Science Topics" covered in this article:
  • Earth Science
  • Life Science
  • People and Science

"Environmental Topics" covered in this article:
  • Growing and Using Trees and Other Plants (Students)
  • Importance of Forest to People (Students)
  • Protecting Trees and Other Plants (Students)
  • Rivers, Lakes, Streams (Students)
  • The Value of Forests and Grasslands (Educators)

Regions covered in this article:
  • Alaska
  • Forest Products Lab
  • Intermountain
  • International Institute of Tropical Forestry
  • Northern
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Pacific Southwest
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Southern
  • Southwestern

"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
Do you like nature but science is your least favorite subject? You could still become an environmental scientist! Some environmental scientists are social scientists. Social scientists study individuals or groups of people. Instead of working with chemicals or microscopes, environmental social scientists study the relationship of individuals or groups of people to the natural environment. They often do this by observing people or by asking them questions. In this study, the scientists wanted to know which elements of an outdoor recreation experience were important to people visiting a wilderness in Alaska. The scientists wanted to identify elements of visitor experiences that wilderness managers could track. Some of the elements might be things that people can change. Other elements might be things that people cannot change. Weather is one example of an element that affects your outdoor experience. The person you are with is another element that affects your experience. Think about your favorite outdoor activity. There is at least one element that affects how much you enjoy yourself when you do that activity. What is that element?
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:
  • Scientific Topics
  • Uses and Benefits of Science

"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is located in the northern third of Alaska (figure 1). Gates of the Arctic is a national park, but was also designated a wilderness by Congress in 1980. For centuries, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve has been inhabited by native people. Today, native people still use this area for subsistence, and other people go there to do things such as hiking, backpacking, and rafting. This area was created by glaciers, which carved large valleys and wild rivers (figure 2). It is now covered with boreal forests and arctic tundra (figures 3 and 4). This area also has an abundance of wildlife. Some of the larger wildlife species include caribou (kair uh bu), Dall sheep, wolves, and bears (figure 5).
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:
  • Ecosystems
  • Value of natural environments

NSE Standards covered in this article:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (A)
  • Populations, resources and environments (F)
  • Risks and benefits (F)
  • Science as a human endeavor (G)
  • Understandings about scientific inquiry (A)

Science Benchmarks covered in this article:
  • Common Themes: Constancy and Change
  • Habits of Mind: Critical-Response Skills
  • Habits of Mind: Values and Attitudes
  • The Living Environment: Interdependence of Life
  • The Nature of Science: Scientific Inquiry