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A virtual bird’s eye view: Live streaming nest boxes to continue outreach in the era of COVID-19
  • Jennifer Houtz,
  • Rachael Mady,
  • Jennifer Uehling
Jennifer Houtz
Cornell University
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Rachael Mady
Cornell University
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Jennifer Uehling
Cornell University
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Peer review status:IN REVISION

30 Jun 2020Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
01 Jul 2020Assigned to Editor
01 Jul 2020Submission Checks Completed
07 Jul 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
01 Aug 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
01 Aug 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor

Abstract

COVID-19 created a host of challenges for science education; in our case, the pandemic halted our in-person elementary school outreach project on bird biology. This project was designed as a year-long program to teach fifth grade students in Ithaca, New York, USA about bird ecology and biodiversity, using outdoor demonstrations and in-person games and activities to engage students in nature. As a central part of this effort, we set up nest boxes on school property and had planned to monitor them with students during bird breeding in the spring. Here, we describe our experiences transitioning this program online: we live streamed nest boxes to students’ virtual classrooms and used them as starting points for virtual lessons on bird breeding and nestling development. We suggest that instituting similar programs at local schools can promote equitable learning opportunities for students across geographical locations and with various living situations. In an era of social distancing and isolation, we propose that nest box live streaming and virtual lessons can support local communities by providing access to the outdoors and unconventional science learning opportunities for all students.