Hands-on Science Fun
Habitat Connections was designed to guide youth through developing life-long scientific skills, expanding environmental awareness, and engaging in conservation action.
This curriculum takes students on a journey to discover the diverse habitat needs of birds, experience some of the challenges birds face during migration and nesting, and realize the unique ways that birds balance the drive to survive and reproduce. Delve into bird migration through the eyes of a biologist and via citizen-science data and models. Put new knowledge to work by planning and implementing a local project to benefit birds, and share their project with other students via the BirdSleuth Action Map.
Throughout the curriculum, you’ll find connections to the Cornell Lab’s five citizen-science projects. By contributing your data about birds, you and your students can help our scientists better understand bird distribution, abundance, and habitat requirements—crucial information for determining population trends and conservation needs. Students are motivated, knowing that their data will be used to address addressing real-world issues of local and global concern.
These activities, and citizen-science participation provides a great opportunity for educators. Instead of memorizing the “scientific method,” students engage in investigations and discover for themselves the multifaceted nature of scientific research. This directly supports the NGSS mandate for students to “use their understanding to investigate the natural world through the practices of science inquiry.”
“When you connect children with their local place through sensory awareness of the local flora, fauna, and habitats, they learn to love those places and to feel safe and confident. What one loves, one will protect.”
—Nicole, Habitat Connections teacher
Each of the seven lessons is designed to be easy to follow and implement and includes concise learning objectives, background reading, “reflect and evaluate” questions, and teaching slides (provided on an easy-to-use Powerpoint) to help you. The lessons were field tested in 3-8th grade classrooms, and are tied to the NGSS and Common Core Standards!
- Learn about the habitat needs of birds, then go outside to map their schoolyard using the Habitat Network citizen-science project.
- Run a migration obstacle course to actively experience some of the challenges that migrating birds face.
- Discover the life cycle of birds and the challenges that nesting birds face by playing a “Bird Survivor” game.
- Learn about the costs and benefits of migrating or staying in one area all year… and discover how adaptations make these differences possible.
- Meet a scientist who studies migrating Hudsonian Godwits and connect to the scientific process and the nature of science by examining his work.
- Compare and contrast animated bird-distribution maps created using citizen-science data, and discover the value of models and citizen-science data in understanding bird distribution
- Plan and implement habitat improvements in your local environment, connecting to other students around the world who are also taking action.
Our goal with this Habitat Connections curriculum is to connect young people with nature in order to build their scientific and environmental literacy, while also addressing key education standards that you need to meet as a teacher.