A small, but mighty crew of 6th-8th graders at Clear Creek Middle School, in Gresham, Oregon, are using the resources around them to learn about ecosystems, and, in particular, birds and their relationship to a healthy habitat. Each Wednesday after school, we meet and discuss some of the science of adaptations or the skill of identifying birds through voice, color, and habits.
The media specialist, Susie Rangel, is a veteran birder who is enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Assisting her is Jeanine Hemel, STEM TOSA for the Gresham-Barlow School District, who brings seven years of classroom experience to share with the "Bird Nerd" students. Each week, after discussing field marks, habitat, or the evolution of birds, everyone grabs a set of "'nocs" and heads outside. We've learned that the weather plays an important part in affecting which birds and how many birds we will see on our tour of the school grounds.
We've learned how to move quietly through the brush, how to describe the location in which we've spotted a bird, and how to listen carefully for different calls. Susie has also set up several feeders, including a tray feeder, suet, and hummingbird feeders. This gives us a slight advantage in finding as many birds as possible.