Field Observation of Birds Inspires and Reinforces Learning

Students in our upper school Ornithology class (the study of birds) recently had the opportunity to visit Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge in South Kingstown and Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Middletown. Their teacher Eric Aaronian shares that “despite chilly, windy, and foggy conditions, the class had a great day, seeing 45 different species.”

Sounds like a great day indeed, what did they learn?

Sophomore Ivan T. says that ”having experiential learning is really exciting – getting the opportunity to apply knowledge outside of the classroom was very valuable.” Observing them was inspiring, he adds, and thinks this type of class could inspire students to a lifelong interest in birds.

His classmate junior Eva S. agrees that having this field experience is hugely helpful.

“We got to use binoculars and scopes and we got to see all these different species and it was really interesting. We were doing this counting competition; it was a lot of fun,,” says junior Eva S. She admits that before this class she wasn’t that interested in birds. But now? “I literally found myself saying, ‘OMG it’s another species – I’m so excited!’”

The class has quizzes each week, “and all of the birds on our next quiz are ones we’ve seen so it’s really great to make that connection with an actual real life experience,” Eva adds.

They have also studied bird navigation and migration utilizing the Earth’s magnetic field to know where they are going. Students have learned about Woodpeckers, for example, and learned why they don’t get concussions. One variety, Sap Suckers, are very common on our campus and students are able to observe their activity by just walking around. And, they have studied bird markings to help identify them in the field – knowledge they put to use on their field trip in fact!

This class has truly sparked an interest for these students in the fascinating science of birds!