Jun 152014

GK-12 Fellow and ornithologist Cara Krieg and Comstock STEM academy teacher Mary Grintals worked together to get STEM academy students outside and directly observing and recording bird nesting behavior!

In April, Cara Krieg donated 10 cedar bird nestboxes to the STEM academy and helped the students site and install them in good locations to attract birds. Cara researches house wrens at Lux Arbor Reserve, a research property managed by the Kellogg Biological Station. Her research includes maintaining a vast network of nest boxes for the wrens so she was able to give the Comstock students some very practical advice to assist with their nest monitoring experience.


A STEM academy student and parent install one of the nestboxes at the school

Mary Grintals recruited her 5th grade students to participate in a nationwide, citizen science nest monitoring program run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, called Nest Watch. The students learned where birds nest (other than in boxes) and how to find them. They also received training in a set of protocols to monitor nests they found, observing the progression from nest building all the way to fledging young, while being careful not to disturb the nestlings or adults in the process. The students created research accounts online using Nest Watch tools; the data they took became a part of a nation-wide project that Cornell will use to help monitor species specific nest success rates across the country. Updated trends and photos from the Cornell project can be found at http://nestwatch.org/.

Cornell featured the Comstock STEM project in its June e-newsletter. Click HERE to view the article. Teacher Mary also wrote a piece about the project that was featured in the Comstock communicator – click HERE to read the article.

The students capped off the project by producing a beautiful research poster, with the help of Fellow Pat Hanly. The poster was displayed at the end of year open house and was very well received. Click HERE to open another window to view a larger version of the poster.


The STEM NestWatch project is a great example of GK-12 fellows, teachers, and students all working together to create unique and valuable learning experiences in the classroom. Well done Cara, Mary, Pat, and 5th grade students!