Following is a selected project highlight from the Share with Wildlife mission to assist all New Mexico wildlife in need, no matter what species.
Teaching Science and Leadership Skills Simultaneously
What is a food web? What kind of organisms are at the base of the food chain? How do decomposers fit in? What does the food chain of the gray vireo look like? What kind of management actions could be taken to improve the gray vireo’s status in New Mexico? These are all questions that the Asombro Institute for Science Education in Las Cruces is working with students in southern New Mexico to answer. Asombro, using funds from the Share with Wildlife program, has developed a new series of lessons for what Asombro calls “Science Intern modules” focused on Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in Doña Ana County. They are placing particular emphasis on the gray vireo. These modules entail Asombro staff teaching four lessons to 5th grade students and then those students turning around and teaching three hands-on activities to younger students.
All told, roughly 600 students will be reached just with these SGCN-focused activities in the 2018-2019 school year. Asombro has other science-oriented modules that it has developed previously and delivers to even more students each year. Having the older students turn around and teach younger students is an excellent way to incorporate leadership skills into the education experience. It also really tests what the students have learned; there is no better way to see what you really know about a subject than by trying to teach someone else about that subject.
The SGCN-focused modules start students off building a food web for the Chihuahuan Desert and learning about species found in playa habitats. They dive deeper into food webs by learning about how matter gets transferred between organisms that are in a given food web and how plants convert carbon dioxide into plant tissues. Students proceed to focus in on one species (the gray vireo) and learn about its place in the Chihuahuan Desert food web, natural history, and actions that can be taken to conserve it. The students finally prepare to teach younger students.
Asombro is almost all the way through the school year and will be wrapping up their Share with Wildlife project in May, 2019