Scott C Merrill
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Kids Do Ecology

    Kids Do Ecology is a program that helps introduce young students to ecology using in-class experimentation and observations.  Scientists working with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) go to elementary school classrooms and  work with teachers to develop programs designed to get kids  excited about the scientific process. Dr Jennifer Williams (an NCEAS postdoctoral associate who examines the interaction between population dynamics and evolution) and I were paired with Mrs Galbraith and her 5th grade class at Monroe Elementary School. We designed a project that examined the how the shape of a bird's beak might influence its ability to eat different types of food. Students used a number of differently shaped tools to pick up a variety of types of food items. Through this experiment, it became clear that some beaks (tools) were good at picking up only one type of food item (specialists), while other beaks were good at picking up a variety of food items (generalists). Additionally, we had a chance to walk down to Arroyo Burro beach to observe a variety of different beak types, from specialists, like Anna's hummingbird, to generalists like the American Crow. 
Jenn and
                                      Monroe class on the Kids Do
                                      Ecology beach field trip February
                                      2011

 Kids
                                Do Ecology beach field trip February
                                2011