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Delran By Nature: The Garden State’s Backyard Birds Family STEM Night





On Monday, March 11, Delran families were invited to explore nature in our two-hour family STEM evening. Held in the DHS Cafeteria, nearly 100 attendees explored ornithology through engaging visits from the DHS Ornithology Society, DelranSTEM, and with Cosi kits to keep the learning going after the event as well.


What is ornithology? Which related activities did we engage in from the Cosi nature kit?


Ornithology is the study of birds. Our Cosi Nature kit included many activities to explore in our backyards this spring, but tonight’s event focused on “Animal Hide and Seek” and birdwatching.




In “Animal Hide and Seek” participants were challenged to create a clever camouflage for different animals to hide from predators in different environments.  Students were asked to define camouflage and provided insight such as “disappearing into the environment” or “blending in.” We also learned about several vocabulary terms, such as cryptic camouflage, abiotic environment, adaptive coloration, and warning coloration, to name a few. Students shared how their animals camouflaged into the different photo environments and the STEMbassadors tried to locate the animals.


For the next activity, Mr. Nate Petitte, a biology teacher at DHS as well as the advisor of one of the largest clubs at the high school, the Ornithology Society, spoke to the attendees about birds and birdwatching. After his presentation and description of how to become involved in the club, volunteers from the DHS Ornithology Society, our Delran STEMbassadors, and Mr. Petitte led several wildlife tours to identify our (pretend) bird species around the high school in an interactive scavenger hunt. 




Event attendee Karen Nowicki noted, “My daughter Samantha, second grade, loves these nights. She thinks they are special and her favorite part tonight was walking around the school on the birdwatch.”

Using items like the nature activity book, binoculars, and mini birding journals from the Cosi kit, students and their families traversed the decorated halls of DHS to find the camouflaged bird species and begin their mini birding journals.


Birding journals, as explained by Mr. Petitte, are lifelong logs of all the bird species you see in the wild. Some of our high school students discussed their birding logs with younger students as well. Senior STEMbassador Samantha is almost to a milestone in her birding journal. Currently at 99 bird species, she will receive a pin to the 100 Club once the milestone is reached. STEMbassador Maddie also is approaching the milestone, with 75 birds at the last count. Some seniors even were bird watching on their trip to Walt Disney World, though any birds seen in captivity, such as at Animal Kingdom, do not count as they are not being observed in the wild. These dedicated, enthusiastic STEMbassadors and volunteers from the DHS Ornithological Society also led the birding tours this evening, taking the young participants under their wings to share their birding knowledge.




What else is included in the Cosi Nature kit? 


The Cosi Nature kit offers activities on other topics, such as watersheds and biomimicry. Additionally, their website offers supplemental videos, bonus activities, and recommended books for young scientists. The school district provided a kit to each family in attendance.


How can I learn more about birding and ornithology?


In addition to the materials in the Cosi kits, Delran libraries in each school offer a variety of book titles on birds, biomimicry, animals, and nature. They also have educational online databases appropriate for all ages to learn more facts as well. Once you are a DHS student, you can join the Ornithological Society, which also goes on weekend hikes together to explore nature and birdwatch. Upcoming club events include hiking Edwin B. Forsythe Preserve and a trip to New York. It’s a great club to be active, learn, and make friends with similar interests (birds of a feather flock together!).


DelranSTEM Gratitude:

 

Thank you to Mr. Petitte and the DHS Ornithological Society, to the STEMbassadors for always lending a hand, and to our families for participating in another engaging evening of STEM learning.


What’s next with DelranSTEM?




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