The Thomas Starr King Middle School is a magnet school in Los Angeles, California that is deeply involved with environmental studies and the arts. This spring, they’re planning a project with the goal of sharpening observational skills, recording accurate information, becoming aware of and caring for creatures within the local environment, and producing functional art. They’ve titled their project City Birds, and have an interactive webpage you can visit here.
The teachers are going to practice techniques for identifying specific birds with their students, involving multiple sessions of bird watching outside the classroom with scientific data-recording strategies. This will include bird sound identification. Students will keep journals and learn to draw scientific illustrations to appropriately describe what they observe. Recently, the T. S. King Middle School opened an art gallery on campus, and the student curators club will soon mount an exhibition of bird illustrations in conjunction with bird inspired art.
At the moment, they’re thinking of scheduling an official birding event for May 28 of this year. Earlier in the semester, students made a ceramic birdbath, and now they’re going to decorate it with glaze and plant designs so it can be placed in the school garden with student-crafted plastic bottle birdfeeders and nestboxes, which will be placed at various locations around campus. The school vegetable garden is going to be supplemented by bird-friendly plants, and a team of students will be responsible for cleaning and filling the feeders and birdbath on a daily basis.
During the event, each teacher and their students will be assigned a location with a feeder or a view of the school garden for their 10-minute CUBs observation. These periods will be staggered throughout the school day to accommodate as many groups as possible, and parents and community members will be invited to participate.
This sounds like a wonderful Pennington Adopt-a-School Mini-grant project to us, and we think it will be a great success! Project leader Charlene Roth wrote us that, “We are motivated to make bird watching and bird care a vital aspect of campus life. We hope all of our students will become citizen scientists and enjoy birding activities throughout their lives.”