Question Sheet: The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence


Before reading:

  1. Why would someone work on the same science project for many years? 
  2. Can a kid make important scientific discoveries? Why or why not?

During reading:

  1. What are snow fences? How do people normally use them? 
  2. What is different about the way Erica is using snow fences? 
  3. Why is Erica interested in sagebrush? 
  4. What types of fences did Erica use? 
  5. What do Erica’s results show? 
  6. How do snow fences affect wildlife?

After reading:

  1. What are the constants in Erica’s experiment? What are the variables? 
  2. How have science fairs changed Erica’s life? 
  3. Now that you’ve read about Erica’s project, how do you think you might

    approach your science fair project differently? Give two examples. 

  4. Compare the plastic snow fence to the wooden one. Why would you use one

    fence rather than the other? Which fence makes more sense for Erica’s project?


  5. What other plants might benefit from Erica’s research? (See clues). 
  6. How do snow piles change the distribution of water in the environment? How

    might those changes help or hurt the environment?


  1. Erica is studying snow in Wyoming. How much snow does Wyoming get in the

    winter? Do different parts of the state get different amounts of snow? 

  2. What other states might use snow fences? Explain your reasoning. See for a state-by-state guide

    to snowfall statistics. 

  3. What other countries might use snow fences? Explain.


  1. Erica has been speaking at science conferences about her research. Pretend

    that you have been asked to make a presentation at a snow-fence conference.

    Write a speech to deliver to the other scientists in attendance. 

  2. What is sagebrush? Using the library or the Internet, come up with three

    interesting facts about sagebrush. Some sites to try include: (Wikipedia), (USDA

    Forest Service), and (U.S. Department of



According to the Canadian Department of Agriculture (, a snow fence with

horizontal boards can trap 25 percent more snow than a fence with vertical

boards. If a fence with horizontal boards traps 7.3 inches of snow in one storm,

how much will an adjacent fence with vertical boards trap in the same storm?