Our Room 2 students, along with a few Room 1 elders, have joined the Voyagers’ Outdoor Program for one morning each week. Middle School students have taken on the role of leading younger students on hikes around the property and generally serving as ambassadors to the natural environment. After being led by their interests and the interests of their classmates on morning hikes with the Middle School students, Room 1 and 2 students separated into their own group and participated in Science class.
One of the most apparent and interesting birds on the property at this time of year are the Canada Geese. Students cannot ignore or overlook the loud honk!’s they emit during the day. But, why do they honk? What are they saying?
We started with these questions and were later intrigued with the idea that the birds might be talking to each other. During our first Science class, we broke into groups and we spaced ourselves out in the woods. Then, students in one group whispered math problems to the other group to test whether or not they could hear the problem they asked and could provide an answer. The two groups were like listening and calling birds in the trees.
The next time class met outdoors, to listen to the sounds of the birds, we sat in a small patch of woods and let ourselves be silent for 30 seconds. As we listened, we counted all the noises we heard.
“I heard a croak, like a frog!” – Eric
“I heard the geese over and over” – Nina
“I think I heard some birds calling.” – Zach
After this, students walked in the woods and suddenly, almost magically, they came upon a set of steel drums, spaced about 50 yards apart. At each steel drum there were also shakers and bells. Students broke into groups once again and played melodies and rhythms in hopes they would hear the same melody repeated to them from the other group. Just like birds in the trees.
The wild animal band plays a melody and then listens for the champion call coming from their classmates in the woods.
This is the study of what author Jon Young calls, “deep bird language” and it deeply connects us to nature, allowing us to become part of it.