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High School Study of Local Species At Risk – a Global Collaboration

July 18, 2014

barnowl

Put up your hand if you can name an endangered species?

Now keep your hand in the air if that species is found in the wild just a short distance from your school grounds?

Chances are most hands in the classroom will go down.

The World Wildlife Fund and other agencies have done a bang up job at ensuring that the plight of the Giant Panda or Siberian Tiger is known. However, while classes in say Australia, Europe or North America may be raising money to help these species at risk, I doubt very much that there are as many classes aware of the plight of the Spiny Soft-shelled Turtle found in south-western Ontario. In my neck of the woods species at risk can be found here. More than one was a creature or plant I saw on a regular basis when I was a child and have little doubt that the majority of my classmates from back then know of the plight of those species today.

Species are at risk around the world though. Amphibian and reptiles cannot adapt to human develop and changes, insects such as the Monarch butterfly and other pollinators are disappearing,

I tell my students often that the most important thing they can do for the environment is not pick up litter, it’s not plant a tree … no, it’s learn more about the issues.

So, in an effort to make students more aware, which honestly is the first step towards active engagement, a few high school teachers that partake in our weekly #EnviroEd chats are banding together to have our students collaborate and discuss our own local species at risk.

Perhaps it will lead to some local Citizen Science as well such as the great work being done by the Canadian Wildlife Federation on bat populations.

When I first broached this subject with some passionate High School educators that are part of my #EnviroEd PLN such as Britt Gow, Beth Lisser and Bonnie Anderson they jumped at the idea. Britt took it upon herself to create a Google Doc to allow us to begin the planning process. So far in setting this up we have some species to be discussed from different continents, some video collaboration planned, marketing ideas and of course discussion and inquiry based questioning from each and every participating class to the other classes to discuss the similarities and potential actions we can work towards to help our own local ecosystems at risk.

If interested in participating come September – send me a note!

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