The House Wren has seen a significant decline throughout New York City, where habitat loss has prevented nesting pairs from finding trees hollows or cavities to nest in. To help alleviate this issue, the AP Environmental Science class of Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School in Queens, NY built their own House Wren nest boxes. These city-school 12th graders had never previously had a woodshop class, and only two of the students had ever used a drill before. Nonetheless, using Cornell’s blueprints and resources from NestWatch and Celebrate Urban Birds, students were successful at building nest boxes.
This interdisciplinary and applied approach to learning was the perfect project for the high schoolers to get engaged with conservation. In addition to the construction aspect, the students gathered data for questions they developed as a class. Their teacher Ann Smith recalled, “We take it for granted, and I guess it depends which part of the country or state you live in, but not every student gets vocational training; not every student gets to build things. For some, it’s all academics, but in the world of STEM, science is facing an upgrade.” This is the first of many projects to come, inspired by Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology. Additionally, it’s the school’s first push towards STEM Education with a focus on “Women in STEM.”