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Ann smith

East Elmhurst, Queens, NY, United States

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12th grade AP Environmental Science class integrating Cornell Lab of Ornithology inspired Citizen Science projects. Thanks to BirdSleuth 2016 Summer Educator’s Retreat!

Wren will I see you again?

“In AP Environmental Science class I got the opportunity to build, “House Wren nest boxes” to help a species of bird whose population is in decline in our area, according to NestWatch.org. This was one of the most exciting labs I ever got to do! Most of the time, when we do experiments in science lab, we have to follow clearly written instructions, follow the scientific method with a hypothesis, and all the other written steps that the teacher tells us to do. This was not the case when we built our bird boxes. We learned how to follow simple blue-prints and measure, using images and numbers, instead of words as guides. I also got to use power tools for the first time in a science lab. While we were constructing our projects, we were brainstorming various questions such as, whether certain stains will help birds select our nest boxes or paint colors, and whether or not the location of the box on a tree should determine its’ color.
Another common topic of discussion is the effect that STEM/STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) has on girls. Starting at a very young age, the world is encouraged to “let boys be boys.” In my experience, by the time these little girls start to grow up and become pre-teen, they tend to shy away from the more “masculine” subjects. As cute as those birds are and as nice as those bird houses will look up in our trees, the idea of building them from scratch with hammer, nails and power-tools was something I never thought I would do. The more girls are welcomed in these areas are study, such as Environmental Science, the more confident they become and the more diverse our workforce becomes. Many girls say that they are interested in those fields, but so few actually enter the workforce in areas that involve math, science and engineering. It makes one wonder where the disconnect is. Why and where are they are losing interest? I found this experience quite fulfilling, and I can’t wait to get to the next step involving our observations with NestWatch using eBird and Merlin to help guide the way.

This lab was an incredible experience, and we both look forward to finding out whether our bird boxes will eventually help out this tiny declining species”

- Peter Maxham & Shannon Connors
Msgr. McClancy MHS Class of 2016

Pictured here: Shannon Connors

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