National Aviary and Pittsburgh Allegheny 6-8 School Host Student-Run Bird Festival in the Park


6/4/2013

NATIONAL AVIARY AND PITTSBURGH ALLEGHENY 6-8 SCHOOL HOST STUDENT-RUN BIRD FESTIVAL IN THE PARK

Pittsburgh, PA (June 4, 2013) – First and second graders were greeted by a red-tailed hawk and southern ground hornbill in Allegheny Commons Park in Pittsburgh’s North Side Tuesday as part of a bird festival hosted by Allegheny 6-8 school and the National Aviary. The festival was the culmination of a seven month project between the aviary and school, funded by the Alcoa Foundation, to offer environmental education and life sciences curriculum through experiential service learning as part of a program called "Flying WILD!"

 “This program provides an educational opportunity that the students would not have had in their typical curriculum,” said Patricia O'Neill, the National Aviary’s director of education and project leader. “Teaching about birds and conservation in a memorable way with real world applications is an ongoing goal at the National Aviary. This program is a perfect fit.”

Today’s festival was planned, organized and implemented by 25 student leaders from Pittsburgh Allegheny 6-8 school for the benefit of 300 first and second grade students from Pittsburgh King PreK-8 and Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5 schools.

The students broke into groups and participated in a series of hands-on activities devoted to birds and conservation.  Students explored the obstacles that migrating birds face in a “bird hurdles” obstacle course. Feathered mask making taught that while there are many types of birds, all birds have feathers. Students learned about the roles of birds in a diverse environment through a colorful food-chain game. A “bird buffet” activity used common household items as “beaks” to help children discover that bird beaks are adaptations which help each bird acquire its food. And in a simulated bird hike plush birds dangled from trees with student designed field guides and real binoculars to teach students how to spot wildlife on a walk through the park. The festival was capped by a lure flying demonstration by National Aviary staff with a lanner falcon.

The National Aviary is one of only two organizations in Pennsylvania certified to provide the “Flying WILD” curriculum which was developed by the Council for Environmental Education to introduce bird conservation to middle school children through classroom activities and school bird festivals. 

The benefits of this curriculum abound. Middle school teachers gain interdisciplinary, standards-based opportunities to engage students in real-world learning. Middle school students benefit through experiential service-learning, working as a team to design, organize and implement the bird festival. Elementary students benefit from a dynamic, hands-on learning experience. 

“I'm proud of what our student leaders accomplished with the help of their classmates as volunteers,” said Tara Crousey, 8th grade teacher and “Flying WILD!” project leader for the school. “To see the smiles and wide eyes of learning in those first sand second graders tells one part of the story. The pride and accomplishment we can see in our students is the other side. It’s been a great program all around and one we hope to carry forward in future years.”

 

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 About the National Aviary

The National Aviary is America’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated exclusively to birds. Located in West Park on Pittsburgh’s historic North Side, the National Aviary’s diverse collection comprises 500 birds representing more than 150 species from around the world, many of them threatened or endangered in the wild. The National Aviary’s large walk-through exhibits create an intimate, up-close interaction between visitors and free-flying birds, including opportunities to hand-feed and to meet many species rarely found in zoos anywhere else in the world. Hours of operation are 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily. For admission rates and more information visit www.aviary.org.

 

Media Contact:

Robin Weber
Director of Marketing & Communications, National Aviary
Mobile: 412-215-9199
Office: 412-258-9435