Elizabeth, CO, United States
Legacy Academy is a K-8 charter school in Elizabeth, Colorado. Our community is surrounded by rolling hills of Ponderosa Pine forests. As with much of the mountain west, pine beetle infestation is a concern, with infected trees being cut down and removed. Fortunately, our forests surrounding our community are remarkably healthy. The toll, however, is felt with those who depend on the dead trees for shelter.
Sixth grade students combined science and art while studying the interrelationships of the members of an ecosystem. If one factor decreases, in our case trees with cavities for nesting, what will happen to those members of the habitat who had depended on those trees? Elizabeth is fortunate to have bluebirds live in our area. Can middle school students really make a difference in a habitat? You bet they can!
Operation Bluebird began with students learning the basic concepts: carrying capacity, abiotic and biotic factors, food webs, food chains, and other information needed to understand the “big picture”. But there is more to learning than words describing concepts. Phase 2 of Operation Bluebird succeeded by a generous donation of time and materials by the parents of our students and our art teacher, Rich Marks. Blue bird boxes were made exactly to the specifications needed for Western Bluebirds. Students then began to learn about Western Bluebirds; what they eat, nesting habits, migration, and coloring.
Phase 3 of Operation Bluebird: illustrate the boxes with accurate details of the Western Bluebird. We are an iSchool, so students were able to easily research specific details of the Western Bluebird. After their research, they chose the design to paint their bluebird box. They are stunning! Each 6th grade student took their bluebird box to their home in our community, with several boxes remaining for the area surrounding our school. Dead Ponderosa Pine trees may be cut down, but 42 bluebird nesting boxes are waiting for the return of the Wester Bluebird in Spring of 2014!
Phase 4 of Operation Bluebird is yet to be written. The bluebirds will come back this spring. Students will observe their boxes and record the results of the efforts put in to this project. Legacy Academy has more plans to integrate abiotic and biotic factors into the “Legacy Habitat”. Students will lead this effort. After all, students of today are tomorrow’s future.