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Gwin's fifth grade "Eco-Brains" Learn From Claire Datnow

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Eco-mystery writer, Claire Datnow recently visited Enrichment teacher Mrs. Traci Ingleright's fifth grade class, the “Eco-Brains”. The author shared with us how her visit and the student's project inspire her eco-mysteries. 



Eco-Brains Students Help Biologists with Bird Banding 

My adventure in writing the eco mystery, The Return of The Red-cockaded Clan, continues at Gwin Elementary School with Traci Knight Ingleright’s “Eco-Brains” fifth graders. You see, in each eco mystery the protagonists help protect an endangered or threatened species. To do this they must solve a complex eco mystery and then take action to save that species. The “bird bag project” the Eco Brains are working on is the missing “action ingredient” I need. I first heard about the project from Helena Umber Wamble, Education Director of the Birmingham Audubon Society. As a result, I spent a fascinating morning with Mrs. Ingleright’s fifth graders, observing them working on this special project. 

The students explained that a light bulb went on when biologists at the Whele Nature Center told them that the commercially manufactured bags were defective. The bags, used to capture birds for banding, allowed birds escape, and ripped apart when washed.

With the help of their teacher, they brainstormed a way to design a better bag. They then sent the bags to the biologist for approval and testing. After their bags passed the test, the students have been hard at work making bags

This is just one of the many projects that has earned the Eco-Brains a Silver Medal from the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-School program—and the teacher the title of Hoover Elementary School Teacher of the Year, 2011. The students’ knowledge of the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers’ habitat and life cycle was impressive. These students’ dedication to becoming wise stewards of our precious natural resources have renewed my creative juices and my commitment to writing eco mysteries for all to enjoy. Thank you! Watch next Blog post for Interviews with Students.

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