PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Fifth-Graders Shine at District 20 STEM Expo

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Nine fifth-graders presented their bird inquiry project today at the District 20 STEM Expo where they shared their work with students and educators from throughout the district as well as District Superintendent Karina Costantino, who agreed that blue jays can be bullies at bird feeders!

Our students got to experience the kind of scientific work going on throughout the district and I was very proud of how easily they mingled with middle schoolers and younger elementary school students. They were also generous of spirit, excited to tell me about the musical Rube Goldberg machine they saw or a pinball machine designed and constructed by two students.

Our students’ bird feeding behavior study focused on whether the presence of Ruffed Grouse and Common Crow at feeders set up in Ontario, Canada and viewed via the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s 24/7 webcam, affected the presence of other birds at the feeders, particularly smaller birds. Students compiled 42 observations that they later analyzed and organized into data charts. They discovered that for the most part, smaller birds did stay away from the feeders when Ruffed Grouse and Common Crow were present, although on one occasion, smaller birds ate off to one side of the feeder, while a Ruffed Grouse ate on the other side of the feeder. They realized that there is literally a “pecking order” at the feeders. They also discovered that the mere “Caw, Caw!” of a Blue Jay near the feeders caused all birds to stay away from the feeders.

This was District 20’s first STEM Expo and based on today’s level of participation and enthusiasm, it is sure to be an annual event!

Let’s hear it for science!

Best, Ms. Seitz