By Education Specialist Tonya Anderson
students, including the girl who dubbed herself “Official Bird,” collected data on each other as if their partners were banded birds.
Later, my first group of newly “banded” students watched Landbird Biologist Dan Wenny extract passerines from mist nets, and observed Landbird Program Director Josh Scullen band and collect data on the birds.
Sixty students can be rambunctious, but handling birds is quiet work and the kids became hushed as they got to see 13 tiny birds face-to-face. As each bird emerged from a net or a bird bag, the students jostled to take pictures with their smartphones—capturing the rarity of seeing such delicate wildlife up close.
The unique experience was possible thanks to a Measure Q Urban Open Space Grant SFBBO received from the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, which aims to advance environmental literacy for children through science-based programs.
Around 500 6th and 7th grade students from two Santa Clara County schools, Windmill Springs Elementary School and Sheppard Middle School, involved in the project visited CCFS in May. The fieldtrips were the final component of a two-part education curriculum module developed by SFBBO with the grant funding.
In the first module, students learned about migratory bird patterns in class. I think what was most special about this module was that youth got access to real, meaningful bird data lovingly collected by CCFS volunteers and staff over more than 35 years. What was most meaningful to me about the second module was getting to see the data I helped collect as a volunteer bird bander come alive in the eyes of young scientists.
May’s activities were a pilot, and feedback indicates that the kids enjoyed their morning immersed in nature, got to apply scientific ideas where real-world science happens, and successfully recalled the IDs of several bird species in the field. SFBBO is making updates to the curriculum and it will soon be available online for free.
You can reach Tonya at email@example.com. You can learn more about our outreach program on our website.
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