Exploring Avian Science in the Enhanced Homeschool Program

Last week, the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture teamed up with The National Institute for Modeling Biological Systems (NIMBioS) and the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department (EEB) to host another wonderful event: “Birds of a feather, learn together” as part of the 2024 Enhanced Learning Homeschool Program. Students enthusiastically delved into hands-on activities, including observing avian specimens, using calipers and rulers to measure bird beaks, and painting wooden eggs. The atmosphere buzzed with excitement as students explored the world of bird morphology, sexual dimorphism, mimicry, and brood parasitism. 

The program was organized by Leslie Chang Jantz, curator of education at the McClung Museum and Kristen Mecke, NIMBioS Project Manager, who served as support staff. EEB graduate students Renata Beco, Tara Empson, and Courtney Schreiner led the students through the activities.

The Enhanced Homeschool Program isn’t your typical learning experience; it’s a program tailored to provide students with hands-on activities that go beyond what they would learn in a typical classroom.  “Kids learn a lot more through hands-on activities. You can sit them down in front of a book all day long, but they learn better when they have something in front of them that they can physically interact with,” said Shauna Reed, parent of two students.

NIMBioS is on a mission to break barriers and bring science to every community. Opening doors for groups that might not have access to such experiences is a top priority for us. “It’s really important to give young kids good answers [to scientific questions]. Meeting people who are really enthusiastic about their fields feeds that passion and allows them to see how many possibilities there really are,” Hannah Fuller, parent of a student, said. At NIMBioS, we’re proud to expose children to the wonders of science and deliver hands-on activities that will increase their awareness of science in their everyday lives.

For more information about the McClung Museum and updates on future NIMBioS outreach events, please visit nimbios.org and mcclungmuseum.utk.edu. If you have any questions about the Enhanced Homeschool Program or NIMBioS outreach efforts, feel free to contact Leslie at lcjantz@utk.edu or NIMBioS staff at contact@nimbios.org

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    From 2008 until early 2021, NIMBioS was supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Any options, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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