Mission: Education

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Education

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers lifelong opportunities for learning about, enjoying, and conserving birds. People of all ages participate in our projects and courses in classrooms, homes, and neighborhoods around the world.

Here at the Cornell Lab’s Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity, we engage hundreds of students in research, preparing our future leaders in science and conservation. In locations around the world, we lead workshops to train international colleagues in the latest techniques to conserve natural habitats and biodiversity.

Whether you are a beginning bird watcher or a seasoned expert, we invite you to join us in discovering more about birds and nature.

Project Highlights

BirdSleuth

Students become scientists with the BirdSleuth curriculum. They observe birds, ask questions, and conduct investigations to seek answers. They can publish their research in Classroom BirdScope and help scientists by contributing their bird observations to the Cornell Lab’s citizen-science projects. BirdSleuth students benefit from spending time outdoors, connecting with nature, and learning how they can make a difference.

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Crossing Boundaries

Crossing BoundariesThrough Crossing Boundaries, students in middle school and high school learn science and develop visions of career possibilities through technology-enhanced exploration of biodiversity conservation issues. Using Google Earth, students zoom into remote locations across the planet to observe landscapes change over time and predict impacts on biological communities. With geographic information systems (GIS), they weigh social and biological factors to select the best location for a new biodiversity preserve in the Amazon. In their own communities, they conduct field studies and use GPS to accurately locate their field data on maps and satellite imagery of their study site.

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Celebrate Urban Birds

Celebrate Urban Birds is a bilingual citizen science project focused on underserved urban and rural communities. Participants observe a small, defined bird-watching area for 10 minutes and report on the presence or absence of 16 species of birds. The project assesses the value of green spaces for birds, ranging in size from a potted plant to half a basketball court. Launched in 2007, Celebrate Urban Birds has partnered with more than 12,000 community organizations and distributed more than 500,000 educational kits in English and Spanish. The project offers mini-grants once a year to support community events involving birds, habitat improvement, and the arts. Seasonal Challenges, including the annual Funky Nests in Funky Places Challenge, offer participants opportunities to share their photos, art, videos, stories, and poems, and win prizes.

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Graduate Student Research at the Cornell Lab

Cornell has been an academic leader in ornithology ever since Arthur Allen was appointed one of the nation's first professors of ornithology at the University, in 1917. The Cornell Lab is a nonacademic unit of Cornell University and does not award academic degrees, but our faculty regularly advise students through their joint appointments with other Cornell units.

We offer students a wealth of stimulating projects at undergraduate and graduate levels, and top-notch advice and collaboration from our scientists and members of their research labs. We also offer a productive environment for postdoctoral scholars. Please contact the following Cornell Lab scientists for information about the specific area you are interested in:

BirdSleuth Workshops: Supporting Student Inquiry

BirdSleuth workshops equip middle school teachers to engage their students in learning science by addressing intriguing questions related to birds. We offer in-person workshops at various education conferences—and interested educators can request a customized workshop for your area. In addition, we offer online professional development opportunities.

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New Course for Teachers

Introducing Integrating Inquiry for Educators: Developing Student Science Practices. This self-paced online course is designed to help educators explore the process of inquiry and scientific investigation, especially as inspired by outdoor observations and citizen-science participation.

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Sound Recording Workshops

Sound Recording WorkshopEach year, the Macaulay Library leads recording workshops to teach state-of-the-art techniques for recording the sounds and behavior of animals in the wild. Participants learn through daily field recording sessions, coupled with lectures and demonstrations from our skilled staff. In collaboration the Cornell Lab’s Conservation Program, we also conduct capacity-building workshops in developing nations. To date, participants from Guyana, Cuba, and Guatemala have received training in recording techniques and systems for bioacoustics research and conservation.

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Sound Analysis Workshops

To help scientists use the latest technologies to study the sounds of wildlife, we offer professional workshops twice per year at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, and occasionally at other sites in the U.S. and abroad. Our workshops have been attended by participants from more than 30 countries. The next workshop will take place during the fall of 2017. The dates have not yet been set, but if you'd be interested in attending please contact Liz Rowland, edr6@cornell.edu.

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Bird Academy

Explore free and premium content on topics ranging from bird identification to bird song and behavior. Bird Academy offers new ways to learn about the world of birds through courses, videos, interactives, puzzles, quizzes and more. Whether you’re in the mood for browsing videos of wild bird behavior or ready to dive into learning all the duck species in your area, Bird Academy is here to help.

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Ornithology: The Comprehensive Bird Biology Course from the Cornell Lab

Learn bird biology at your own pace from anywhere in the world with the Cornell Lab’s comprehensive Ornithology course. New for Fall 2016, this online experience from Bird Academy is built to guide you through the Handbook of Bird Biology, 3rd Ed. and extend your learning through custom media elements and rigorous quizzes on each chapter of the textbook. Over the past 20 years, more than 10,000 bird enthusiasts and budding ornithologists have used previous versions of this course to transform their understanding of birds. Comparable to an introductory college level course in Ornithology, this course is well suited for anyone with a serious interest in learning more about birds.

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Spring Field Ornithology

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned birder, you can take your bird ID skills to the next level with this popular 8-week course. Select from lectures in person or online, weekend outings, and special overnight trips to birding hotspots.

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Sound Recording Workshops

Sound Recording WorkshopEach year, the Macaulay Library leads recording workshops to teach state-of-the-art techniques for recording the sounds and behavior of animals in the wild. Participants learn through daily field recording sessions, coupled with lectures and demonstrations from our skilled staff. In collaboration the Cornell Lab’s Conservation Program, we also conduct capacity-building workshops in developing nations. To date, participants from Guyana, Cuba, and Guatemala have received training in recording techniques and systems for bioacoustics research and conservation.

Learn more

Learning with Nature Center Exhibits

Next time you visit a nature center, museum, or wildlife refuge, you might run across one of our interactive exhibits. We design these to help people get more out of their time outdoors—by learning something about the details of birdsong and other animal sounds using our Raven sound analysis software. Or by helping them identify their sightings, using an eBird Trail Tracker kiosk to browse bird photos and facts, pinpoint their sightings on a trail map, and upload the data to aid researchers. We're also involved with artists in creating installations such as Maya Lin's What Is Missing?, a hopeful memorial to endangered species and extinction.

Online Resources for Learning

One way we fulfill our mission to inform the world about birds is by creating rich web resources. Our free All About Birds species guide provides life-history details, photos, sounds, and videos for nearly 600 North American species. All About Birds also offers bird-feeding tips, advice on where to go birding, videos and interactive tutorials on bird identification, and online versions of our member magazine, Living Bird.

We also update and publish The Birds of North America Online. This vast resource, available for subscriptions as low as $5 per month, compiles the complete state of scientific knowledge about more than 700 North American breeding species. We also organize and host Neotropical Birds, a collaborative project to develop the same kinds of detailed life-history accounts for all the birds from Mexico and the Caribbean to South America.

A self-paced online tutorial. Learn to ID birds by size and shape
Birds of North America Online, ultimate source for bird info, join for $5/month
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