Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Raptor Center and ACES - A Winning Partnership!

TRC staff Lily Carey and Artemis
the Peregrine Falcon.
TRC Interpretive Naturalist Staff Dan Hnilicka helps
a student with the "egg" exercise. 

The Raptor Center is excited to have expanded our partnership with ACES (Athletes Committed to Educating Students) in the past year.  We have enjoyed a long relationship with local 4th grade classes and a focus on educating about owls during their academic year.  In summer 2014, we expanded to work with summer camps. 

In this current academic year, we launched a series of programs, based in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) principles, with multiple 5th grade ACES classes.  The Raptor Center’s feathered ambassadors accompanied our interpretive naturalist staff this past fall to talk about migration.  Several 5th grade classes practiced their math skills by thinking about distance, time, and velocity of some raptors as they migrated.  

In the winter, these same schools received TRC visits again, and this time applied their math skills to thinking about topics related to grossology.  There are many cool and unexpected things that happen in the natural world that at first seem a little scary.  The students worked with a demonstration of how much weight a healthy eggshell can support (it will surprise you!) as opposed to what happened in the past to eggshells thinned from DDT.  They also calculated what they would have to eat in proportion to their body weight, compared to raptors like eagles and American kestrels.

Spring will bring lessons in what happens to bald eagles who have lead poisoning from ingesting spent lead ammunition.  This topic weaves together many ideas related to how we all share the same environment. 
TRC Interpretive Naturalist Dan Hnilicka and Nero the Turkey Vulture

We are so pleased that these multiple visits not only help build relationships with the students and the schools, but that these young people are expanding their knowledge about raptors.  We received a quote from a student, via the ACES Program Coordinator, that summed it up well.  This student has now participated in four (4) TRC visits (last spring as a 4th grader, this summer at the Club, the fall and winter 5th grade visits) and was able to answer many of TRC staff Dan and Lily’s questions about the birds. When the Coordinator commented on that afterwards, the student gave her a look communicating that “of course she knew the answers” and said “I’m a beast at birds”. To have a student who had very minimal knowledge of raptors last spring and now has that level of confidence in her own knowledge is incredible. Thank you for providing our students with such a valuable experience!

Below, see some of the great thank you cards TRC received from recent visits!

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