Tippecanoe School Corporation
Students get into March Mammal Madness
Sue Scott

There are brackets, upsets and fan favorites just like in the college men’s basketball tournament. But instead of the Arkansas Razorbacks, Connecticut Huskies and Texas Longhorns, the names of these contenders include the Cathedral Termite, Siberian Chipmunk and the Veined Octopus. It’s March Mammal Madness and some TSC schools are caught up in the frenzy.

Teachers assign students to research different animals, share their findings with the class and then fill out their brackets to predict a winner. Then, students watch videos where scientists provide the play-by-play of the online, hypothetical bouts and declare winners.

East Tipp Middle School eighth grader Vanesa Hernandez researched the Striped Possum: “They are intelligent, they can sound like a frog (indicating that they are noisy) and they are able to emit a powerful but yet unpleasant smell.”

Southwestern Middle School seventh grader Max Owens studied the Cathedral Termite. “I think the termite will win due to sheer numbers,” says Max. “They can build mounds up to 15 feet tall.”

“As with normal March Madness, there are upsets among the animals which makes the event really fun and interesting to see,” says East Tipp science teacher Christina Schmidt. “There’s a large bracket on a bulletin board in the eighth grade hallway that kids check after each battle.”

Shiv Patel at East Tipp researched the Giant Striped Mongoose, but selected the Hyena to win the championship: “They are very unique carnivorous animals and can be very strong.”

“I picked the Golden Eagle to win the entire tournament because of its overall strength in its feet that also carry extremely sharp talons,” says Kyla Quintero from Southwestern. “It also has a flight advantage along with wit to add on to that. So overall, I think it is a worthy opponent, and a challenging one too!”

Classmate Keziah Gutierrez also chose the Golden Eagle: “It has advantages like flight, sharp talons and a razor beak.”

Southwestern science teacher Dacota Shockley says students were hesitant at first, but the excitement began to build once the videos with the battle results started. “Students are coming to class ecstatic to see if the animals they chose won their battles,” says Shockley. “I hope each student will take away that so many environmental factors can have an impact on an organism's survival and remember the excitement for my class and March Mammal Madness.”

“This has been a fun and interesting activity,” says Keziah. “I hope we do it again.”

SMS students compare brackets
ETM students get excited about brackets
SMS students check brackets
ETM student checking bracket