Bat Education with High School Students
Jon Boxall Uxbridge Secondary School, Durham District School Board
The start of the new school year is always busy, throw in two canoe trips within the first five weeks and it is downright chaotic. That's how its been here at Uxbridge Secondary School this semester with the Outer's Club heading to Algonquin Park and the Outdoor Education class venturing further north to Kilarney Provincial Park. Along on these trips are an Echo Meter Touch bat detector and occasionally a SM4BAT Recorder. Students gather at the water's edge at dusk to look for, and hopefully record, foraging bats. Back in the classroom students will process the recordings with Kaleidoscope software.
Over the past summer some bat recordings were collected at our Outdoor Education Center and these recordings will be analyzed by the students in the coming months.
A busy fall semester saw the Outers Club and the Outdoor Education class take part in several overnight out-trips this year. Along on these trips were an Echo Meter Touch and a SM4BAT recorder. While camping in Algonquin Park and while staying at Camp Kandalore, students were able, on a few nights, to survey for bats (unfortunately poor weather conditions on some of these nights prevented bats from flying). We did manage to get some good recordings of Big Brown/Silver Haired bats on those nights.
With the tripping season over students have now had time to formally learn more about Ontario's bats. Through power point presentations and first-hand demonstrations students, including those who are not able to attend over- night trips, have learned how bio-acoustics is helping bat researchers study bats.
Some of our students are using the Kaleidoscope software to analyze recordings made over the summer from various locations within Central Ontario and at our residential Outdoor Education Center. While these students and myself! are getting more familiar with the software we (it has) have managed to identify four of Ontario's eight species so far. Some of our recordings will require further vetting from more knowledgeable bat experts.
With semester two fast approaching another group students will soon have the opportunity to learn more about Ontario's bats and the technologies being used to study them. We are patiently looking forward to the upcoming spring field season as well.
As another school year has come to an end it is nice to know that many of our students at Uxbridge Secondary School now have a better understanding of, and appreciation for, Ontario's bats. In-class presentations on bat biology and the threats facing our native bat populations were complimented with over-night field trips where students were able to make real-time acoustic recordings of bat calls. Camping trips to Algonquin, Kilarney, and Queen Elizabeth Provincial Parks provided the students with opportunities to use Wildlife Acoustic's Echo Meter Touch and App to capture the calls of five of Ontario's eight bat species. Several of our students downloaded the app onto their personal devices and borrowed the EMT's to record bats in their own neighbourhoods. "I never realized we had this type of bat activity in my own backyard" one of my students told me excitedly the morning after having used the EMT at home that night"
These recordings were then brought back into the classroom where students (after having watched the tutorial videos) would run them through the Kaleidoscope software program. (A SM4 BAT was setup at our residential outdoor education center several times throughout the field season and collected a number of recordings that were also included in analysis). The more technically savvy students picked up this skill up quiet quickly. In any case, a real appreciation for the science and technology that is used in bat research was gained by these students.
In all, hundreds of recordings were collected that represent five different bat species (Big Brown/Silver-haired, Eastern Red, Hoary, and Myotis spp.). A collection of these recordings has been sent off to more qualified personnel for further vetting. Our data will be shared with our Provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Staff at Uxbridge Secondary School hope to continue taking students into the field to experience the excitement of "hearing" bats.
Thank you to Wildlife Acoustics for the grant of the Kaleidoscope Software.