At this year’s New England Environmental Education Alliance conference, held in Litchfield, CT from Nov. 4-6, Brown University’s Director of Science Education Dan Bisaccio presented “Mapping Nest Success in Migratory Birds” to educators from around the region. Bisaccio, who is also the director of graduate studies for Brown’s MAT program, instructed fellow educators on using field-based inquiry to visualize nest disturbance data using maps.
Bisaccio helping a student use field-based inquiry
In Bisaccio’s hands-on field exercises, students craft artificial nests and eggs of migratory birds and investigate the impact of forest fragmentation on nesting success. Locations of the nests are then mapped using GPS and nest disturbance analyzed, and the data and process allow students to learn about global habitat connections and conservation issues for migratory birds in an exciting, interactive way. Students as researchers can then share their data with other students around the country using HabitatNet.
While the Brown MAT program prepares future teachers for classroom teaching, the program honors a variety of educational environments. Recently, the Elementary Education MAT program supervisors asked several EE MAT candidates to plan a field trip for the cohort, as a well-deserved opportunity to take in the beautiful New England fall colors and to experience the benefits of outside-the-school learning. For the MAT candidates who planned the field trip to Long Pond, an Audubon Society refuge near Hopkinton, Rhode Island, it was a chance to practice applying prior knowledge and to consider how alternative learning experiences can be created, especially for students that lack convenient access to natural areas.
Anna Weisberg, elementary MAT candidate 2013-14 and one of the field trip planners, had this to say: “The field trip gave me the opportunity to put to use some pre-MAT experiences and consider their usefulness for my cohort members and future students. It was also a great chance to explore alternative “texts” outside of the classroom, books and articles, as well as to get some fresh air and see gorgeous New England fall with great people!”
The EE MAT cohort not only enjoyed some delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while taking in the views, one activity on the field trip even involved blindfolding the program supervisors!
Over the course of the MAT year, MAT candidates will explore a variety of settings for learning, including through individual and group visits to schools around Rhode Island and Massachusetts.