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Friday, March 9, 2012

Science Inside and Outside 'the Box': Elementary & Middle School Science Collaboration on Eastern Bluebird nestsboxes!

The setup: You must know this about me. I'm into birds and nature as much as I am into kids and learning. Here is the story of how I got to merge these two worlds. Last summer I did early morning bird surveys at Staley HS and Bell Prairie Elementary while my daughter was at cheer practice, last summer, 2011. No one else was around at 6:30 am. except me and the birds....and peace, quiet, and birdsongs. LIKE!  I reported my data on, of course. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Blue Grosbeaks, Lark Sparrows, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and Eastern Bluebirds were some highlight birds. I observed many species on the school grounds and LOTS of Eastern Bluebirds. Mary Nemecek checked out the area and noticed the same thing. 

Fast Forward to Feb 2012:  Here's the 2-school Science project I've been working on thanks to my friends Mary Nemecek (birder and photographer), Linda Williams (Master Naturalist), and Julie Goldsberry (3rd grade teacher at Bell Prairie). Mary Nemecek started this whole 'story' with her idea of placing Eastern Bluebird (EABL) nestboxes at Staley/Bell Prairie. She shared that with me and I thought it was a magnificent idea! Perfect habitat for Eastern Bluebirds exists around Staley HS and Bell Prairie Elementary, here in the North Kansas City School District. In mid-February, I contacted NKC Schools personnel and SHS & Bell Prairie principals as well as Julie Goldsberry. District personnel responded right away; meeting with us and okaying the plan for nestboxes on the property. Julie worked us into her busy 3rd grade school schedule the very next week. Mary contacted Linda who agreed to volunteer her time and expertise. As a result, we were able to get busy teaching the kids about EABL's and helping them build the nestboxes in no time! As of Feb. 29th, here are 6 Eastern Bluebird nestboxes up around Staley and Bell Prairie. Many thanks to Linda and Mary for making the nestbox kits by hand prior to meeting with the kids. My 6th graders will help the 3rd graders observe and monitor the boxes in April and May, recording data and learning about EABL's and nature along the way! Updates and more pictures to come in the future as this story unfolds.

(Photo by Mary Nemecek)

Video of project so far:
Bluebird Nestboxes Project--Bell Prairie Elementary & New Mark Middle School!

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