The sounds of birds chirping and singing in the mornings can help to create feelings of positive expectation for the day to come. The melodies of these little creatures bring a sense of peace and solitude, helping one to appreciate the nature surrounding us. With that visualisation in mind, annual Birdwatch events help students act as conservation researchers by tracking the types of birds they observe in different environments. Included is the Big Garden Birdwatch that runs from January 29 to 31 (sign up here), wherein participants will spend an hour counting birds observed in their gardens or balconies and document data. Data collected is vital for helping plan solutions for preserving the different bird populations (for Birdwatch 2020 results, click here).
Since 1979, an estimated 9 million hours have been spent observing over 137 million garden birds in the U.K. Over four decades of data have shown that a number of species have been on the decline and these birdwatch events give researchers and scientists clues as to why some species are struggling and what can be done to protect them.
By incorporating STEM lessons that focus on topics such as climate and weather, bird habitats, and urban ecology, students can better understand what challenges bird populations are facing. Students can also identify problems and develop solutions via conservation plans that require collaboration, communication, and critical thinking — all important skills for the 21st century learner.
To ramp up STEM learning for before, after, and during Birdwatch observations, here are a few lesson ideas that incorporate MimioSTEM solutions that are interactive, collaborative, and spark imagination.
- Bird Beaks Kit allows students to explore different avian feeding mechanisms by testing realistic beak shapes with a variety of food types. The simple, hand-held bird beak models simulate how birds gather food and students will learn how beak shape influences survival. To find out more about this kit, watch the video:
- Camarhynchus Finch Kit replicates a real-world field study by having students measure, graph, and analyse specimens of to-scale Darwin’s finches. This kit pairs with the Darwin’s Finches Kit. For more on these kits, watch the video:
- Urban Ecology Kit, which is also available as a Virtual STEM Kit, includes nine lessons that have students design a city given specific constraints. The focus is creating designs that minimise human impact on the native ecosystem while optimising cost-benefit scenarios. For ideas on how to use this kit in the virtual classroom (for remote or hybrid learning), read Using Virtual Learning to Drive Environmental Change.
For remote learning or in-class situations where physical distancing is in place, a document camera is useful for helping students see specimens up close. The MimioView™ document camera not only enlarges dimensional and flat objects but allows for annotation of the images (ex. identifying and labeling different birds’ beaks for comparison) that can be saved and used over and over.
Labdisc portable STEM lab and MSK lessons
- Planting Trees is a multi-day exploration using the Labdisc sensors to help students recognise the importance of trees on both local and global temperatures. Students will discover and communicate other reasons trees are vital to the environment. To introduce and practise coding skills, students can use the Mimio MyBot to ‘plant’ a grid of trees.
- Greenhouse Atmosphere and Greenhouse Planet lessons explore a planet’s temperature as affected by the greenhouse atmosphere. Both lessons use the Planetary Temperatures Kit.
On its own, the Labdisc portable STEM lab has a variety of lessons to integrate in a thorough Birdwatch unit such as Temperature Around Us, Weather and Climate, What’s the Weather Like Today?, Exploring Our Environment, and Greenhouse Effect.
Fully engage your students in a comprehensive, and interactive, Birdwatch unit that will stimulate critical thinking and collaboration. You may be encouraging a future ornithologist.
The Bird by Victor Hugo
Be like the bird, who
Pausing in his flight
On limb too slight
Feels it give way beneath him
Knowing he has wings.
To explore the different STEM solutions that Boxlight has to offer, visit global.boxlight.com.