On a beautiful sunny day, the Centro Básico San Mateo school in David, Chiriquí, Panama, officially launched its first BirdSleuth International workshop for students in the seventh, eighth, and ninth grade. The materials given to participants were all about their local birds. Using the materials, students enjoyed entertaining and educational bird activities, held both indoors and out in fresh air. This program made Centro Básico San Mateo one of the first schools in Panama to use the BirdSleuth International curriculum in the classroom, and would not have been possible without the outstanding work of Centro Básico de San Mateo teacher Yasmín Cerrud and principal Elesbia Santamaria.
It was wonderful that biologist Katherine Araúz Ponce could come speak with the students about the extraordinary world of birds. During her presentation, students saw how citizen science helps conservation and research efforts about birds and the environment. During the “Knowing our Birds” activity, students were mesmerized by the beautiful calls of their local birds. They also viewed materials describing specific characteristics of common birds in David, Chiriquí. Together, these resources led to a myriad of questions about specific birds; all the participants were itching to learn more. In the “Habitat Scavenger Hunt” activity, students used the printed materials in the curriculum to look for items on the list. The children were actively looking for insects, spider webs, leaves, and animal footprints in their school’s backyard.
After this outdoor activity, the participants said they noticed that their school did not have enough trees or places where birds could drink water or find food. Luckily, local environmental leaders were also there to present their greening plans for local birds and the community. The students were so inspired by the activities and presentations, they began planning to create more green spaces in their school.
The event was such a success that soon after the first event, the school decided to host another workshop. It was fantastic to hear the students’ reflections about the first program and how their relationships with birds have changed since then. Now, they could note the specific behaviors of their local birds. They said the workshop really motivated them to get interested in birds and their natural environment.
During the second workshop, biologist Katherine Araúz Ponce gave another exciting presentation, in which she invited students to the front of the classroom to name birds using silhouettes as clues. The kids were buzzing with enthusiasm as they named each bird and showed what they had learned in front of their peers.
Many students wanted a better way to signal the location of a specific bird to their classmates so they could observe together without scaring the bird away. The “clock method” of signaling the precise location of a bird was shared with students during the “Tips for Bird Watching” activity. The activities from the BirdSleuth International curriculum also helped students to discover the amazing eBird app, a cool way to submit and track bird observation data. Using eBird, the school entered their first observation together. They were surprised and happy to see their data entered, knowing it would help scientists protect birds as well as the natural environment.
The students left thrilled with all the new information they brought home, and were excited to observe birds and get involved with conservation efforts! They even made a logo for their new birding club.
If you would like to learn more about the activities Yasmín conducted through July this year, click here.