Photo © Keith Williams
Photo © Mary Grintals

NestWatch Inspires Fifth Graders

This year, 5th-grade students at Comstock STEM Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan, joined America’s largest team of nest researchers when they joined NestWatch. As their capstone project, they learned the nest monitoring protocol for participating and started contributing data to NestWatch.

Michigan State University donated 10 nest boxes to be placed along the perimeter of the school playground. These nest boxes were designed to attract House Wrens and Black-capped Chickadees, which they very soon did. Cara Kreig, of Michigan State University, worked closely with teacher Mary Grintals to train students on safely finding and monitoring nests, because students don’t want to inadvertently cause harm to a nest.

Ms. Grintals relayed that her students were very excited and also deeply respectful when they first discovered a nest in one of the boxes–a chickadee’s nest lined with downy soft materials! A hush fell over the group as the adult chickadee returned to its nest and cast a watchful eye over the students, who were taking coordinates at the time. They departed as soon as they could, leaving the nest in peace. Who would have thought a group of exuberant 5th graders would fall silent in the presence of a single chickadee? (The chickadee, in case you were wondering, went on to successfully raise seven young.)

Several of the students have also begun searching out and finding open-cup nests too, like that of the American Robin. Referring to one particularly eager boy, Grintals remarked, “He has come alive to science doing this project!” Indeed, if we educate young people about the living world out there, how can they not come alive when they find that everywhere, at all times, birds are sharing lessons with us?

Do you incorporate NestWatch into your curriculum? If so, your class could win binoculars from Celestron.
Using NestWatch to get your students interested in nature makes you eligible to win up to 20 binoculars from our Birdsleuth K-12 program. Just submit your activities to the Action Map to be considered. Get the full details. Not sure how to get started teaching citizen science? Get prepared with a webinar.