ANN ARBOR---Elementary school children in Ann Arbor, Melvindale, and Detroit are trekking through the wild---at least, the "wild" life around their schoolyards. With handheld computers at their side, these budding biologists are studying the biodiversity around their schools using software originally developed by professional animal trackers in Africa.
The program, called BioKIDS: Kids Inquiry of Diverse Species, is made possible through the cooperative efforts of the University of Michigan's School of Education and Museum of Zoology, and the Interagency Education Research Initiative (National Science Foundation, Department of Education and theNational Institute on Health). Uniting students, teachers, and biologists, BioKIDS allows students to use a variety of program-specific computer resources to explore how and why animals and humans interact. The students, employing the outdoors as their science lab, ultimately develop field guides for their fellow students to view.
Currently, the students are focusing on comparing and contrasting local biodiversity with other areas around the country. Students carry handheld computers with geographic information systems and CyberTracker™ software, allowing them to record animal sightings. They then compile the information into a large-class, program-wide database.
The U-M School of Education hosts student-created Web accounts and provides access to professional-level species accounts, such as the Animal Diversity Web™ and Nature Mapping™. The services offer access to large biodiversity data sets and simplified geographic information interfaces, allowing students more in-depth inquiry. In 2002, students will begin using the Internet to build accounts that detail local species as well as link with nationwide student database accounts to create webs of relationships.
Additional details are available about the BioKIDS program by visiting their Web site at www.onesky.umich.edu/site/biokids.html. For more information about the U-M School of Education, go to www.soe.umich.edu/
Contact Dana Fair
Phone: (734) 647-1844
The University of Michigan
News and Information Services
October 2, 2001 (6)
EDITORS: Photos available on request.