Junior high school students share science with kindergarteners
Ninth-grade Ben Franklin Junior High School and P.J. Jacobs Junior High School science students have been busy sharing their knowledge and love of science with kindergarten students at Boston School Forest.
Thanks to a Wisconsin Environmental Education Board Grant, 456 ninth-graders traveled to the school forest over six weeks, participating in citizen science monitoring with Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch and educating younger students. The morning was spent learning to identify common Wisconsin birds and collecting data for Project FeederWatch.
Felicia Singer, a student at P.J. Jacobs writes, “Boston School Forest is really hands on and educational. We have fun the whole time, but we’re learning a lot while we do so.”
The citizen science project takes place across North America November through early April with participating researchers reporting their observation data to assist scientists in tracking movements of winter bird populations.
During the afternoon, ninth-graders worked with the kindergarten students running rotating stations focusing on bird adaptations, bird beaks and tools, reading the book “Counting is for the Birds,” by Frank Mazzola Jr., making a pine cone bird feeder and building nests.
“It’s a great day for both the older and younger students,” said school forest program leader, Karla Lockman. “The ninth-graders are citizen scientists for the day collecting, graphing and analyzing real data that is used by bird researchers.
“The most memorable part of the day is when the ninth-graders become the educators,” she said. “It’s so fun to see how the big kids and little kids work together to learn about ‘bird basics’ and get excited about environmental education, which is really our goal here at the forest.”
Julie Kolarik, Ben Franklin Junior High science teacher echoed the impact of the opportunity from her ninth-grade students’ perspective.
“I have ninth graders that come back and say to me, ‘We want to start a bird call group!’ ‘Awesome trip!’ ‘I saw two cardinals and a blue jay!’ ‘That was my kindergarten teacher!’ ‘I loved it!’ ‘Chick a dee, deeee, deeeee!’ ‘The kindergartners loved me!’ ‘I want to be a teacher!’ ‘I don’t want to be a teacher!’” she said.
“I can’t help but smile and know that this opportunity went far beyond the collecting, graphing and analyzing of scientific data for our kids … and that, along with our high academic standards and fantastic faculty, is what education in our district is all about,” she said.
The collaboration was made possible by a Wisconsin Environmental Education Board grant.