1. Have students identify the habitat of the northern leopard frog.
Distribute a copy of the worksheet The Habitat of the Northern Leopard Frog to each student. Have students use the National Geographic Animals website to locate and color in the habitat of the northern leopard frog.

2. Build background on abnormalities in the frog populations.
Explain to students that recent findings link atrazine, an herbicide used to kill crop weeds, with reproductive abnormalities in some populations of northern leopard frogs. Ask: How do you think the herbicide and the abnormalities might be connected? Explain to students that wind, rain, and running water can transport atrazine from cornfields into the marsh habitats of the northern leopard frog.

3. Ask students to make connections.
Challenge students to think about ways to determine if there is a link between the use of atrazine and abnormalities found in the northern leopard frog. For example, students might say they would travel to the frog habitat and observe frogs for abnormalities. If it seems like atrazine is the suspected cause, they could conduct an experiment in which some frogs are exposed to atrazine and others are not in order to determine its impact.

4. Watch a video clip from "Strange Days on Planet Earth."
Show students Act 1 of “Troubled Waters” from Strange Days. Ask students to share their reactions.


5. Hold a class debate.
Tell students you will hold a class debate. Ask students to think about the following question: Under what circumstances, if any, should government intervene to address the reproductive abnormalities found in the northern leopard frog? You may want to assign students the following roles: a scientist such as Tyrone Hayes; a farmer who produces corn; a homeowner living in the northern leopard frog habitat; a representative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; an environmental engineer; an owner of a farm implement business; a groundwater specialist; and a representative of a chemical company that produces atrazine.

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • locate the habitat of the northern leopard frog on a map
  • describe the relationship between atrazine and reproductive abnormalities in northern leopard frogs
  • explain their opinions about whether or not the government should intervene

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Discussions
  • Hands-on learning
  • Visual instruction

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

  • Critical Thinking Skills
    • Understanding

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Geography Standards

  • Standard 14:  How human actions modify the physical environment

National Science Education Standards

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Colored pencils
  • Pencils
  • Pens

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector, Speakers
  • Plug-Ins: Flash

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Large-group instruction

Background Information

The northern leopard frog was once the most abundant and widespread frog species in North America. It is now considered a threatened species.

Prior Knowledge

  • None

Recommended Prior Activities

  • None



deformity or condition different from the normal or expected state of being.


environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.


natural or manufactured substance used to kill plants.



This material is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-1114251. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.