The Museum of the City of New York’s Neighborhood Explorers hosted a lovely Celebrate Urban Birds event with Central Park East Elementary School in East Harlem on October 13, 2009. The event aligned perfectly with the goals of Neighborhood Explorers, which is a free after-school program that teaches high school students to become active participants in shaping a community. Using principles of architecture, planning and design, students propose creative solutions to existing issues—such as a scarcity of habitat in a built environment—in the Museum’s East Harlem neighborhood.
This after-school event was attended by approximately 50 people (comprised of elementary school students and their families) including special guest Karen Purcell from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The celebration was held in the school’s courtyard garden, where twelve birdhouses and one bat house purchased with the Celebrate Urban Birds grant were decorated by elementary students. In the spring, the houses will be hung throughout the school’s courtyard and students will maintain and monitor them.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology Celebrate Urban Birds information packets were provided for all participants at the event; additional packets were left in the care of teaching staff at Central Park East (CPE) to be shared with students who were unable to participate in the event. Student participants used reference books and other materials to draw colorful images of bird species and their habitats. Additional activities including a sing-along led by the CPE music teacher and bird naming and movement activities kept the students engaged and entertained.
We hope that the new habitat provided by the birdhouses in Central Park East’s courtyard will attract many birds for the students to observe, study, and enjoy.