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WCCS News 78 Investigative Report

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Keywords: Flu, Nests, Investigate, Birds, Virus
Subject(s): Life Science, Technology, Health and PE, Biology, Photography, Science
Grades K through 8
Original Author: Irene Morgan, Chesterfield
The News Tip

On recent excursions to Creve Coeur Lake & Park, the middle school grade science and drama teacher, Mrs. Susan Nelson, and the computer teacher (myself), have noticed a large number of bird droppings under the mud nests attached to the upper columns supporting the overhead highways. So, portraying ourselves as a viewer with a news tip to WCCS News 78 (West County Christian School News 7th/8th grade) the question is one of public safety, considering both the West Nile Virus and Avian Bird Flu have been great concerns in the news recently.

The Project

The students, wearing their Investigative News Team T-shirts, will take a field trip to the site and document in writing and record digitally their observations using both still and video features of the Olympus cameras, a camcorder, and binoculars, and further investigate the following:
a. What species and approximate number of birds are building the nests?
b. What is the bird’s habitat, and does it pose a risk to pedestrians using the footpaths?
c. Do the birds return to previous nests or rebuild each year? What is the average number of young birds inhabiting each nest?
d. What do the birds eat? Do the bird’s diets help or harm society as a whole?
e. Where do these birds migrate? Is this area noted for Avian Bird Flu or West Nile Virus outbreaks?
f. Are there any dead birds seen at Creve Coeur Lake & Park?
g. Has this species been related to any outbreaks of West Nile Virus in the St. Louis metropolitan area?
h. What other species of birds are seen at Creve Coeur Lake & Park? Are they identified with carrying either the Avian Bird Flu or West Nile virus diseases?
i. If evidence finds that the nesting habits of these birds puts society at a risk for disease, how can they be discouraged from nesting there?
j. If the evidence found suggests that these birds are an asset to the community,
what can be done to encourage their migratory returns to this location each year?

In the classroom, the students will use Tool Factory Workshop’s database to compile and categorize their findings. Both database and web design are taught the second semester of the school year. Further research will be done to determine the migratory paths, areas of disease outbreaks, and signs and symptoms of diseased birds and of humans infected with West Nile Virus or Avian Bird Flu. The WCCS News 78 investigative team will reach a conclusion in response to the public concern over the news tip received. Their findings will be prepared in the following four types of formats designed to reach the public:
a. A photo montage using Tool Factory MultiMedia Lab V from the digital photos taken on the field trip.
b. A website (using Tool Factory Home Page) about the birds building mud nests at Creve Coeur Lake & Park.
c. Posters made using the Tool Factory Workshop addressing public concerns.
d. A video DVD where the investigative team writes a script using Tool Factory’s Workshop for a mock news broadcast in a typical new station setting, records it using the Olympus camera video recording feature and using a camcorder, processes it, and then burns a DVD.

Thank you for reviewing and considering our proposed lesson plan which we believe will be fun and educational for the students involved.

Interesting Anecdote: One individual stopped going on the footpath after seeing the mud nests and wrongly concluded that they were mud dauber or wasp nests!

Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Includes drama and science/health classes, as well as computer technology.
Classroom Guest Speaker

For even more excitement, we could look into the possibility of having one of the local TV news investigative reporters come to the classroom to describe his/her occupation, how he/she goes about doing investigative news reporting, and what educational preparation is needed to become such. This could be done prior to the field trip or after the students have completed their video DVD of the mock news broadcast. The guest reporter would be given a complimentary WCCS News 78 Investigative Team T-shirt.
Materials: Slideshow, Web Page, Database, Word Processor, Batteries, Camera Bags, Point and Shoot, Wildlife
Other Items: 3 xD Memory Cards, $40.00 each, total of $120.00
8 Camera Batteries, NiMH w/ recharger, $5.00 each, total of $40.00
30 posters, $0.33 each, total of $9.90
1 DVD's, $20.00 each, total of $20.00
30 T-shirts, imprinted with WCCS News 78 Investigative Team, $6.67 each, total of $200.10
2 Tapes for Camcorder, $17.50 each, total of $35.00
2 Photo Paper, $15.00 each, total of $30.00
1 Tripod for camcorder, $40.00 each, total of $40.00