Classroom Programs from the Asombro Institute for Science Education


For more information or to schedule a program for your class: Contact Kelly Steinberg,


Cows and Calves

First Grade – Cows and Calves

Students will learn about Raramuri criollo cattle, a heritage breed that scientists are researching as a sustainable ranching solution in the dry southwestern United States. Students will discover how Criollo dams, or mothers, help their offspring, or calves, survive. They will conduct investigations to determine different ways Criollo ensure calves survive by studying their behaviors and how data are being collected in New Mexico using precision tools. They will then analyze data they collect to understand how Criollo are well suited to survive in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Next Generation Science Standards

     1-LS1-2. Read texts and use media to determine patterns in behavior of parents and offspring that help offspring survive.


Third Grade – ¡Criollo! Desert Cattle


After a quick activity that demonstrates the relevance and importance of cattle to human life, students will play an active game that models the foraging behaviors of regional heritage cattle (Criollo) versus those of more recently introduced English breeds (Angus). Following a discussion of traits and inheritance, students will gather evidence to support an explanation of how cattle like Criollo come to have traits that help them survive by breaking into groups to collect data on the geography and climate of the various arid locations where Criollo’s ancestors originated. Finally, students develop a timeline of Criollo history and construct an explanation for the phenomena.

Next Generation Science Standards

3-LS4-2 Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing. [Clarification Statement: Examples of cause and effect relationships could be plants that have larger thorns than other plants may be less likely to be eaten by predators; and, animals that have better camouflage coloration than other animals may be more likely to survive and therefore more likely to leave offspring.

Precision Ranching

High School – Precision Ranching: Technological Solutions to Reduce the Impact of Raising Cows in the Southwest

Students examine the introduction of Precision Ranching Tools in the Chihuahuan Desert. Students work with models of the technology in order to identify potential problems with each tool. They will then attempt to redesign one of the Precision Ranching Tools to address one of the potential problems.

Next Generation Science Standards

HS-ESS3-4: Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.

Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Career Cluster Alignment

CRP.07.CCTC Standard: Employ valid and reliable research strategies. Career ready individuals are discerning in accepting and using new information to make decisions, change practices or inform strategies. They use a reliable research process to search for new information. They evaluate the validity of sources when considering the use and adoption of external information or practices. The use an informed process to test new ideas, information and practices in their workplace situation.

CRP.08. CCTC Standard: Utilize critical thinking to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

CRP.10.04: Identify, prepare, update and improve the tools and skills necessary to pursue a chosen career path.

CRP.11: Use technology to enhance productivity


Fun Activities for Students to Do at Home

Ages 12+ – Solving the BeefSolving the Beef

Minimum 2 players

This competitive game encourages players to think broadly, innovatively, and creatively. This is a game of divergent and innovative thinking, with a bit of luck. The game will be updated regularly by Asombro educators as additional information is published in this study: Novel strategies to increase sustainability of beef production systems in the western United States (a.k.a. Sustainable Southwestern Beef). Scientists involved in this study are focusing on three major topics: Supply Chain Options, Precision Ranching, and Heritage Genetics for Raramuri Criollo cattle.

Next Generation Science Standards

HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, and reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Career Cluster Alignment

CRP.06. Demonstrate creativity and innovation. Career-ready individuals regularly think of ideas that solve problems in new and different ways, and they contribute those ideas in a useful and productive manner to improve their organization. They can consider unconventional ideas and suggestions as solutions to issues, tasks or problems, and they discern which ideas and suggestions
 will add greatest value. They seek new methods, practices and ideas from a variety of sources and seek to apply those ideas to their own workplace. They take action on their ideas and understand how to bring innovation to an organization.


Screen shot of game

Middle/High School - Get Out and Graze

In Get Out and Graze, students learn about a heritage cattle type, Raramuri Criollo, that is well adapted to arid conditions and is being studied for its potential to be more successful than traditional cattle types under climate change conditions in the southwest. Using a game to model grazing patterns and resource availability, students will collect and analyze data. Watch the instruction video here.


Next Generation Science Standards

MS-LS2-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.

HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.

Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resource Standards

AS.01.01. Evaluate the development and implications of animal origin, domestication and distribution on production practices and the environment.

AS.01.01.01.c. Evaluate the implications of animal adaptations on production practices and the environment.

AS.01.03. Analyze and apply laws and sustainable practices to animal agriculture from a global perspective.

AS.01.03.02.a. Research and summarize sustainability in animal systems.

CS.04.02. Assess and explain the natural resource related trends, technologies and policies that impact AFNR systems.

CS.04.02.01.b. Analyze natural resources trends and technologies and explain how they impact AFNR systems (e.g., climate change, green technologies, water resources, etc.).