Kids using a bird guide during the Christmas Bird Count in Ramble, Central Park, December 14th 2014. Photo: Camilla Cerea

Birds

How Birdwatching Can Help Kids Learning About Math

Just a simple and entertaining activity can help school-age children to develop their STEM skills

Next time your child has a hard time solving equations, take them for a walk in the park and don’t forget those binoculars. Don’t believe a little birdwatching session can help a child  get their homework done? Think again. A simple, yet fun time out can actually have tons of benefits for elementary school students in all STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—areas. Here are five of them.

1.     Counting as a warm up. When students observe birds, they don’t have to only enjoy their cute colors. You can also encourage them to count and estimate bird populations right in your local neighborhood, which also happens to be the birds’ habitats.

2.     Scientific method 101. Why is this bird here? Why is it eating that? So many things to wonder about! By watching birds, young students make their imaginations fly, which can also translate into making inferences and using the scientific method to solve problems.

3.     Geometry, anyone? Birdwatching gives kids the opportunity to create models of birds, focusing on wing, tail and body shapes, while learning more about them. This is also a boost for any child with artistic skills, too!

4.     Biology lesson. A stroll outdoors its also useful for kids to learn the scientific foundations of bird anatomy, their behavior and the way they adapt to make survival possible.

5.     Fact-based experiences. The basis of all science is data. With birdwatching, students learn how to collect and analyze real-time data, which can later be used to make their own hypotheses and assumptions.

Happy birding (and math learning)!

Haley Main is the Program Director of the For The Birds!, an Audubon New York initiative that offers educational programs of 4, 8 and 16 weeks to elementary school students in the five boroughs of New York City. Want to find out more about how to get them to come to your school? Send an email to hmain@audubon.org or reach them by phone at (212) 979-3064.