BirdSleuth K-12 Webinars for Educators

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Have you looked at SciStarter’s event finder lately? We have exciting new additions, including a new webinar series from BirdSleuth K-12!

BirdSleuth K-12, an education program run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, supports educators as they help kids connect to nature and develop science skills by participating in citizen science and inquiry. Their free, hour-long webinar series helps teachers find new ways to get kids outside and observing nature. BirdSleuth K-12 strives to give educators fun, interactive ways to get new content and lesson plans, discuss innovative techniques with like-minded educators, and promote authentic science learning in every season.

Why webinars? Kelly Schaeffer, educational specialist for BirdSleuth K-12, told SciStarter that webinars are a convenient, accessible, and interactive way to reach people everywhere. According to Schaeffer, “We started with a paid series in 2013 that explored the Next Generation Science Standards right after their release. This series was popular and we got a lot of great feedback, but we also really wanted to be able to bring teachers fresh, seasonally appropriate ideas right when they needed them. So the free monthly webinar series was born!”

Since the initial launch, educators have built relationships with the program after attending the webinars, often coming back to report success stories in the classroom. The webinars are built to be interactive, with one staff member presenting and the other one encouraging discussion in a chat window. Educators use the chat function to connect with each other, sharing tips and kind words. Often, the attendees are a mix of newcomers and old friends that have been popping up for years. As Schaeffer told us, “We love seeing familiar names pop up and we love when new names become familiar.”

Though most lessons focus on North America, the webinars are broadly applicable and boast attendees from all over the world. Schaeffer told SciStarter that a group of 30 educators from the Philippines recently attended a few webinars. “It was a wonderful reminder of how interest in birds, our environment, and citizen science is truly global.”

These webinars are held once a month on various topics. BirdSleuth K-12 covers a wide range ideas from designing bird study experiments, to engaging girls in STEM, to integrating science and literacy.  The team at BirdSleuth K-12 brainstorms ideas collaboratively, making sure to incorporate suggestions from a survey of participants. The webinars seek to highlight the kits and free resources provided by the Cornell Lab, including six citizen science projects. Schaeffer and the rest of the team also reference outside resources. “We love to incorporate some of the other amazing citizen science projects out there, and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve referred folks to SciStarter to find the project that’s right for them.”

Teachers are busy and professional development can be hard to access, so it’s important to BirdSleuth K-12 to offer certificates of completion and a brand new option for continuing education units with their webinars. Check out the full series and register for your favorite webinar today. 

Schaeffer told us that, in the future, BirdSleuth K-12 plans to change their name to K-12 Education. However, their mission will remain the same: providing quality resources to educators who pioneer hands-on science.

Categories: Birds, Education, webinar

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About the Author

Caroline Nickerson

Caroline Nickerson

Caroline Nickerson is an advisor at SciStarter, where she assists with the Citizen Science Month Program, SciStarter’s Corporate Volunteer Programs and other programmatic and outreach efforts. Caroline is a Master of Public Policy graduate from American University, where she was a Reilly Environmental Policy Scholar, and is a current PhD student at the University of Florida. She also works with the UF-VA Bioethics Unit, the Christensen Project, Florida Community Innovation and other organizations. She was the 2019 Cherry Blossom Princess representing the state of Florida and the grand prize scholarship winner at Miss Earth USA 2021 as Miss Louisiana Earth.