MNPS bases assignment on NewsChannel5 story about declining bird population

Posted at 8:46 PM, Apr 01, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — MNPS is sending home assignments to students for them to complete amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Though the assignments are optional, teachers wanted to create something that would keep students learning and sharp in the long absence from school.

They're basing five assignments off of the core aspects of STEAM. There's one for science, English, math, social studies and art.

The science portion of the packet is an assignment based on a NewsChannel5 story about the decline in the world's bird population.

Back in September, a study was released by the journal Science, it showed the population of all birds in every ecosystem have declined by 29% or 2.9 billion birds. This includes the native species and migratory birds that can be seen in Tennessee.

One of the students who is working on the assignment is Zofia Hunter, an 8th grade student from Rose Park Magnet Math and Science Middle School.

The assignment calls for students to go outside once per day and spend 10 minutes looking at birds and recording the temperature. Zofia is working on the assignment from her backyard. She said she's seen dozens of birds so far.

“The numbers have been pretty random," said Zofia. "So, on the first day it was 74 degrees outside and there was 9 birds. Keep in mind, I took all of these at different time periods which is something I would change if I could do it again.”

Zofia reflected on how strange it was to be at home and not in school right now with the shutdown due to coronavirus. She said she tries to converse with her friends often to stay social, but has also encouraged them to do the assignment.

She said the information about bird decline makes her want to study the issue more.

“Previously, I didn’t even know about the declining rate of birds in Nashville. But now that I know about this, it makes me want to like go out and actually do this because I’m very caring about the environment and I always try to get out there and talk about stuff like this," said Zofia. "So, this is very interesting to learn about and possibly something I would advocate about.”

The person responsible for this assignment is Claudeen Denning, a lead STEAM instructional coach for MNPS. She said was trying to think of an idea that would get kids thinking and still work within the parameters of social distancing.

“Even though the students are out of school, we don’t want the fresh information that they wound up acquiring during the school year to be at a loss. So, we wanted to keep our minds fresh," she said.

Denning said the NewsChannel5 story was a connection to the real world and would allow the students to look into nature rather than being stuck indoors.