Birds were chirping, kids were laughing, and kites were flying at the Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences Flying WILD Earth Day Festival. Barnesville faculty teamed up with naturalists from Black Hill Regional Park to create an entire day of fun outdoor and environmental education activities related to birds, their habitats, and their migration.
The day was the culmination of six months of bird-related nature lessons, and embodied much of what the School community values as “The Barnesville Way” -- hands-on learning in nature, cross-curricular connections, kind and collaborative interaction among grade levels, and joy.
To start the day, Ms. Neubauer, a parent, led students in a series of bird-like yoga poses. After viewing live feeds from nest webcams, students heard from Suzanne Shoemaker, founder and director of Owl Moon Raptor Center, a local wildlife rehabilitation center specializing in birds of prey.
Outside, seventh graders led a circuit of learning stations. Eighth graders paired up with their preschool buddies to help guide them through the various activities.
Each student took on the identity of a bird species in the Bird Migration Game. Third and fourth graders made and wore shirts representing their birds. There was a scavenger hunt scouting out sites around campus where student-built Bluebird boxes are being installed. And, students took turns trying to capture and carry food and water with simulated beaks, racing to transport water back to their team’s nest and experimenting with how different beak shapes are better at picking up different kinds of food.
Everyone was captivated by the owl pellet dissection station where teams worked to uncover and identify undigested fur, feathers, bills, claws, teeth, skulls and bones of prey animals. Other activities included painting pots, planting marigold seeds, and making bird-themed hats and kites.
Adventures with Raptors brought nine different birds of prey to campus for an up-close and personal live bird interaction. A falcon, hawks, owls, and a vulture impressed the crowd with their beauty and power. The expert falconers shared details about each bird’s features and related hunting and survival skills. Barnesville students knew a lot about birds from their work throughout the year, and that led to a robust question and answer session.
The day’s activities were planned by a committee made up of Barnesville faculty (Jodi Popielaski, Z. Harabatch, Erin Hussey, and Tara Barnhart) and naturalists from Black Hill Regional Park (Tina Stachura, Lynette Lenz, and Katrina Fauss).
About Flying WILD at Barnesville
Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences is engaged in an ongoing partnership with Black Hill Regional Park that enhances outdoor and environmental education across the School’s curriculum. The entire Barnesville faculty is trained in Flying WILD, a national program of the Council for Environmental Education that uses birds as the focus of an engaging environmental education program. Every month, naturalists from Black Hill visit with Barnesville classes to prepare students for outdoor experiences at the Park. The Flying WILD program complements Barnesville’s multi-year bird study and Field Guide documenting campus wildlife.
About Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences
Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences offers an innovative preschool through 8th grade education that integrates the humanities, arts, math, and science. Small class settings foster a culture of joy, support, and excellence. Skilled teachers engage each child in an academically challenging environment that promotes imagination, exploration, growth, and achievement. Located in the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve, Barnesville is certified as a Maryland Green School by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education, demonstrating achievement in curriculum and instruction, community partnerships, and best management practices.