Usually, students learn about pollinators by reading a paragraph or two in a textbook. However, 10th graders at Magna Vista High School took their lesson to a whole different level.
Frances Lash and Brook Hankins teach an Ecology class to Warrior Tech Academy students at MVHS. Like many Warrior Tech classes, learning about Ecology allows students an opportunity to experience project-based learning as opposed to by-the-books academic work.
Instead of reading about pollinators and moving on, students in the Ecology class took it upon themselves to create habitats in hopes of attracting native animal species to the area.
The class constructed the habitats out of wooden frames.
“We built shelves in them with a lot of hammering and nails,” Dalton Wright said.
Students adorned their habitats with chicken wire, flower pots, bricks, bark, bamboo and other items they found outdoors. Pupils received guidance from the Master Naturalists and Master Gardeners, but they created the boxes on their own.
“Anything in the classroom, we couldn’t use,” Wright said about the materials that students placed inside the habitats. “We had to find it outside.”
“We couldn’t buy anything,” Shemro said. “[Lash] wanted it all used.”
Not only did it help students practice the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling, but it also gave kids an opportunity to go beyond the walls of the classroom to complete the project.
“Everybody needs some sort of resources from outside,” Lash said. “Some people don’t really appreciate why it’s important.”
Lash said that some of the Ecology students weren’t crazy about going outdoors at the beginning of the semester. However, many grew to appreciate the land beyond the window by the end of the year.
Holden Agee explained the importance of pollinator animals.
“It helps the plants reproduce,” Agee said. “[An insect] will land on a plant and will get all of this pollen on the little hairs on its legs. Then it’ll go to the next plant.”
Annaii Estes said students got to decide which type of animal they would like to attract.
“We put pots on there because butterflies like to find smaller places,” Wright said.
“Carpenter bees like tiny tubes,” Shemro said. “We did a hover fly.”
Students attempted to attract a variety of other insects, including moths and bumblebees. One student even wanted to give wasps a place to live.
“We wanted to make [the habitats] natural, but cute, like, appealing to the eye,” Shemro said. “We’re going to put them out there.”
Several pollinators are already serving the community at the Smith River Sports Complex on the Paw Path.
For those interested in attracting pollinator animals to their own back yards, Agee said, “Start off very simple. You don’t have to make it so complicated.”
Shemro said creating the pollinators in the classroom isn’t a lesson she’ll soon forget.
“I think that’s my favorite project we did all year,” Shemro said.