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Building a home for bats

Local students get hands on lesson on bio-diversity by building homes for bats.

THUNDER BAY - Halloween was more than a month ago, but bats, or at least their houses, were popping up at an area high school this week.

Grade 6, 7, and 8 students from Five Mile School were partnering with grade 11 biology students and grade 8 Kickstart Tech Design class students at Superior Collegiate and Vocational Institute to learn about bio-diversity and build bat-boxes for the furry-winged mammals.

“It ties in with our wellness academy with the environment and it ties in with the animals in our environment,” said Allison Chambers, the grade 6/7 teacher at Five Mile School. “We are a rural school so we felt that is important for the kids to know about.”

Students at Five Mile School have been learning about bio-diversity and the importance of various species co-existing in the natural world.

Chambers said partnering with Superior has provided the students in her class to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to a real world setting.

“It was a natural fit,” she said. “It is putting into practice what they are learning in the classroom and finding ways the kids can be involved with directly improving our environment and helping animals.”

For many students at Five Mile School, the natural environment is right outside their back door, so they have all been eagerly looking forward to learning about bio-diversity.

“The majority of them just love animals and they have a strong connection with animals and wildlife,” Chambers said. “Being a rural school, many of the kids already have that as part of their background. And they were really excited to come and be in the high school environment and have the hands on experience.”

Outside the science room, students were learning skills including sanding, staining, drilling, and construction during the program. Superior Kickstart technology teacher, Lisa MacLeod, said the program is a really great way for students entering high school to learn about the many options that are available in the technology program.

“The opportunity was to get students into the class and give them a chance to see what different technology programs are available here at Superior and some of the projects we would typically be working on in the Kickstart program and some of the other technology courses we offer here,” she said.

The bat-boxes that are constructed will be available for purchase and some will be given to provincial parks to assist in conservation efforts for bat populations.

“Some of the students are already interested in buying the one that they built,” MacLeod said. “We already have quite a few people interested.”

For grade 6 student, Nathan Mantyla, working on the boxes has been a great experience, especially when it involves power tools.

“We were doing some sanding and we found it a lot of fun because we get to use the power sander,” he said.  

Grade 7 students Makenzie Staples, Jaimee Egeberg, and Chayse Holland said they were all excited to be participating in the project and learning about how the boxes are made and the bats that will use them.

“We’ve been staining the bat boxes black and it’s a lot of fun,” Staples said. “We’ve been learning about how humans and animals impact the environment.”

And even though bats are often a spooky symbol that stalk the night on Halloween, for the students at Five Mile School who are lending them a hand by providing a home, they’re not so bad.

“They’re cool,” Holland said. “They are tiny animals that can fly!”

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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